For bakers who supply the foodservice channel, the latest research from Mintel isn’t great news. After a dramatic drop in eating out caused by restaurant restrictions and closings, high unemployment and consumer caution, Mintel predicted total market sales to rebound to pre-pandemic levels by 2023. For many of the hardest hit bakers, that’s hardly fast enough.

Leading the way will be limited-service restaurants (LSRs) like quick-serve and fast-casual restaurants while full-service restaurants (FSRs), the hardest hit segment, will struggle. During 2020, FSRs are predicted to see a 39% to 42% decline, while LSRs are expected to decline 13% to 18%.

Food safety, sanitation and value remain top priorities. According to a Mintel Internet survey of 2,000 people completed June 4, 40% of adult consumers look forward to returning to restaurants once social distancing measures are relaxed. However, 42% of them want to hear about food safety and sanitation from restaurants. Meanwhile, 68% of value-seeking diners say that they are constantly searching for restaurant deals.

Amanda Topper, associate director, foodservice, for Mintel said LSRs were innately better prepared to respond to the pandemic because of established drive-thrus, delivery options, mobile ordering and lower price points. During the next two years, she added, investments in off-premises dining will help operators recoup sales, but big hurdles will exist as consumers cut discretionary purchases.

“Even as dining rooms reopen on a state-by-state basis, consumers are likely to have concerns about dining out and limited budgets to do so,” Ms. Topper said.

For bakers, tough times loom, but any support they are able to give their restaurant customers will be welcomed in the long haul.