Why Coffee and Snacks is a Winning Combination in Healthcare

September 14, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has created numerous challenges for healthcare foodservice operators, with labor-related issues proving to be among the most difficult to manage.

Incorporating new safety protocols and new procedures for production and customer service are only adding to the staffing woes operators face, in terms of hiring and retention. Self-service coffee stations have long helped operators streamline labor costs. But in COVID-19’s wake, many of them are rethinking that model and opting instead for barista-style service from behind the counter to minimize customer contact with coffee urns, creamers and other shared equipment.

While barista-style coffee stations provide a safer option for operators and guests, they bring potential challenges of their own. For example, such offerings can slow down service during busy periods, which research shows could result in lost sales opportunities. Speed of service is, in fact, a key factor for consumers when deciding where to buy their coffee, with 33% citing it as important, according to Technomic’s 2020 Beverage Consumer Trend Report.

Moving coffee order fulfilment back behind the counter may also require operators to reallocate labor from other areas of the facility. A worker who previously had been tasked with refreshing pastry displays might now be responsible for dispensing coffee, for example.

One way to help manage these changes is to streamline the beverage menu to eliminate some of the more complicated items and minimize customization as an option. Operators should evaluate both the popularity of each drink and the labor costs required to make it when downsizing the coffee menu.

But they must also be judicious with their cuts. Given the long shifts and around-the-clock care that have been required during the pandemic, many hospital employees and visitors consider coffee an essential foodservice offering. Even in traditional restaurants, consumers order regular hot coffee all day long, Technomic research shows; it’s also the most popular beverage at breakfast.

Operators can boost coffee sales—and satisfy consumer demand—by pairing robust snack offerings with their all-day coffee program. Technomic’s 2020 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report confirms the veracity of this approach, as consumers are snacking more than ever. In fact, 35% of survey respondents indicated they eat three meals a day with a few snacks between meals; another 32% of consumers usually skip one meal per day or replace one meal per day with snacks.

These findings reveal an opportunity for operators: Offering a grab-and-go display of prepackaged snacks adds convenience for customers with a minimal labor investment. This could take the form of a convenience store-style cart, carrying an assortment of prepackaged snacks, including options such as as belVita Breakfast Biscuits, protein bars, chips, drinks and more. Draw attention to these types of offerings with activations like belVita Brew-mance, a complimentary merchandising program offered by Mondelēz International Foodservice that includes eye-catching point-of-sale materials to encourage bundling.

With a little process re-engineering and menu optimization, operators can turn their self-service coffee programs into barista-style offerings that keep labor costs down—and accelerate profits.

Click here to start a Brew-mance at any location, and visit the Mondelēz International Foodservice website to find a full portfolio of products and other resources to help you provide the best service and offerings to customers.

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