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Meeting consumer demands for heightened cleanliness and sanitation

The foodservice industry has made impressive strides on all fronts amid their comeback efforts after the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it still faces continued challenges. 

Industry sales in 2021 were down about $65 billion, or about 7.5% below pre-pandemic levels of 2019, according to the National Restaurant Association, and as of April 2022, eating and drinking places were still 794,000 jobs—or 6.4%—below pre-pandemic employment levels.

Meanwhile, labor and other costs continue rising, putting pressure on operators' margins and attracting customers back has remained a significant challenge. Restaurants are striving to provide great guest experiences while often operating with reduced staffing levels and heightened expectations among customers.

The past two years have instilled among guests the value of solutions such as contactless ordering and payment, as well as other touch-free solutions, including soap and hand towel dispensers. These solutions have met the need to have top-tier cleanliness and hygiene, and operators have been rethinking their processes and procedures throughout the enterprise. 

According to Technomic’ January 2021 Safety and Sanitation Reigns presentation, 89% of diners said having employees visibly cleaning/sanitizing always makes them feel safer. Additionally, more than three-fourths of survey respondents—77%—said that a foodservice establishment’s cleaning policies will impact their intent to visit, and 61% said they want to see more cleaning and sanitation activities in a post-COVID-19 world.

Another report, Technomic’s 2021 Signaling Safety & Sanitation Multi-Client Study, found that guest concerns about restaurant cleanliness and hygiene have remained strong, even with the peak of the pandemic having passed. For example, while 70% of respondents said they expected tabletops to be cleaned at least every 30 minutes during the pandemic, 64% believe that frequency should be maintained after the pandemic has faded.

“During the pandemic, [customers] have trained themselves to look for safety and sanitation cues, and this is a behavior that will stick around for years to come,” the report concluded.

It is clear that strong cleanliness and hygiene practices have become table stakes when it comes to driving sales and customer loyalty in this environment.

Suppliers have stepped to the plate with solutions that support foodservice operators’ goals around cleanliness and hygiene. Tork, for example, offers a range of hygiene solutions for both the front and back of the house, as well as washrooms and drive-thru areas, that help foodservice operators meet the heightened expectations of their guests.

These include products such as the Tork Xpressnap® Fit, a compact napkin solution, designed to help restaurants improve efficiency and hygiene, and the Tork Xpressnap® Electronic Drive Thru Napkin Dispenser, which delivers the right number of napkins every time, helping to reduce waste and enhance the drive thru workflow.

Tork also offers wiping and cleaning products and skincare solutions. Tork Wiping and Cleaning products help to reduce the risk of cross-contamination and include innovative, odor-resistant options to create a more hygienic experience for guests, while Tork Skincare solutions include soap that removes tough food odors and sanitizers that help to disinfect hands, improving hand hygiene for guests and employees alike.

For operators to ensure they are meetingguest demands regarding cleanliness and hygiene, working with a supplier that is plugged into those demands is key. Tork knows operators have a lot on their plate. Guests and staff have higher expectations of restaurants than ever before and keeping up with all the demands can be very stressful. ​

Whether operators need to find ways to make things easier for staff, reduce consumption, find a more cost-effective solution, or create a more hygienic and environmentally friendly experience for guests, Tork makes sure restaurants can do the most with the resources they have and keep business running smoothly. ​​

Tork is proud to provide restaurants and foodservice facilities with hygiene solutions and products that can help them think ahead to meet the challenges of today’s high-stakes operating environment. To learn more about how to improve efficiency and hygiene to drive ongoing customer loyalty, click here, and be sure to visit Tork at the National Restaurant Association Show at Booth #424.

This post is sponsored by Essity, makers of the Tork brand of Professional Hygiene products

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