Delicious food and beverages are not only etched in our taste buds but are embedded in our memories. Inspiring culinary and dining experiences are a significant legacy of any MICE- or group travel programme. They are service touch points and intrinsic topics of discussion that should always be taken very seriously.
Diet is of increasing interest to consumers, as is the idea that you can do something beneficial for your health by choosing the right products, herbs and spices. The trend towards naturalness plays a dominant role in food choices, with the health benefits of unprocessed, organic and wholesome products being a priority.
Outstanding, representative, varied, fresh, seasonal and local cuisine at fair-trade prices and with friendly, creative presentation and efficient delivery and service in atmospheric settings are increasingly significant aspects of successful tour programming, word-of-mouth publicity and repeat business.
They are chief considerations in terms of customer satisfaction, client feedback and competitive advantage. Factors that are ignored by tour operators, DMCs, PCOs and suppliers at their peril.
For destinations serving the German outbound market, for example, there are a number of dietary options which should be considered when seeking business, planning programmes and handling requests: vegetarianism, veganism and diabetes being probably three of the most relevant.
Germany has the highest percentage of vegetarians and vegans in Europe. In 2018, there were some 8 million vegetarians in Germany (10% of the population) and 1.6 million vegans (2% of the population). The rapid growth of vegan products in Germany also reflects a rise of ethical consumerism, especially among younger and #FridaysforFuture consumers.
A majority of Germans are not, however, giving up meat altogether, they are making room for more vegan and vegetarian products as part of what is essentially a “flexitarian” and CO2-friendly diet, presenting openings for attractive and innovative plant-based food and beverage offerings.
A recent Forsa survey revealed that approximately 42 million people in Germany identify as flexitarians or "part-time vegetarians." It is estimated that by 2020 over 20% of Germans will eat mostly vegetarian. That is next year!
Another dietary consideration for travel groups is diabetes. More than 58 million EU citizens have diabetes; by 2045 this is forecast to rise to 66.7 million. There were 7.5 million cases of diabetes in Germany alone in 2017 (12 % of the adult population).
These are all highly relevant questions that should be clarified well in advance of any MICE or leisure groups travelling. For culinary preferences and dietary requirements are no longer simply niche concerns but are key success factors that should never be underestimated nor ever overlooked.