Foodservice sector improves, manufacturers of plant-based substitutes look to expand globally

Reefer containers

Cold-chain and foodservice providers hope the recent uptick in business signals a turning point for the sector’s fortune. According to Steve Taylor, director of sales for food logistics at AIT Worldwide Logistics, foodservice business is currently down 40-50% — an improvement from a few months ago when it was off as much as 70%. 

“The advent of the phased reopenings and limited dine-in capacity, as well as the introduction of outdoor seating, is definitely an improvement for restaurants, as curbside pickup and delivery have been their only sources of income throughout much of the pandemic,” Taylor said.

Taylor noted a nationwide tightening of truckload capacity, with July’s year-over-year load-to-truck ratio up a staggering 100%. But U.S. exports to Asian markets have seen capacity open up for both air and ocean. Likewise, reefer container availability has been good in the U.S. interior as well as on the coasts.

Meanwhile, producers of plant-based dairies and proteins are ramping up international shipment volumes as demand for their products continues to surge worldwide.

“We’ve been helping these companies move their products into new markets so they can test not only the foodservice but the retail sector as well,” Taylor said. “U.S.-based companies are expanding into Asia, Europe and the Middle East, while European businesses are also looking into entering the North American market.”