Festival season begins, but long queues due to lack of staff

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The Netherlands is gearing up for a scorching festive summer. But what are we going to eat at festivals this year? And are there even enough food trucks and employees to satisfy our hunger?

Festivals are no longer just about music, but also about food and drink. But after two years without events, many caterers are running out of money and there is not much left to invest and innovate.

As a result, the offer will not change much this summer, suspects Gijsbregt Brouwer, observer of culinary trends and festival enthusiast. This means there will be vegan kebabs, Mexican snacks such as tacos, churros and spring rolls.

Either way, it will be a tough summer for caterers, says Brouwer. “Mainly because of the lack of staff. And you notice that because the queues are longer.” He has already experienced this himself at a few festivals he visited on King’s Day.

A growing need for more luxurious foods

If we look a little deeper, Brouwer predicts a growing need for more luxurious food at festivals. “At first you only had fries and burgers, then a lot of street food. In the coming years we will move to restaurant-like environments where you can sit down quietly for a three-course lunch. can be a restaurant on the festival site or near the stage.”

The ultimate example is Tomorrowland, where starred chefs cook for the happy few in a club above the stage. “It will slowly trickle down and be within reach of all visitors.”

Maartje Nelissen of creative and sustainable catering agency The Food Line-up has already received a number of requests for pop-up restaurants at festivals. She also notices that many chefs in her network are less eager to find jobs due to the two-year pandemic. “Many chefs and caterers have a choice and choose corporate events or festival pearls more often, so they know for sure they are selling well. After two years of corona, they simply can’t take any more risks.

You can order more often through an app

Another trend – which is slowing, but expected to continue this year, in part due to understaffing – is automation. Order and pay via app and tap your own beer, for example. Brouwer: “You bring the staff out. It sounds mean because you want to see people at a festival. But on the other hand: you feel that there are always too few people working and you always have to wait too long long for your food or drink.”

“The staff shortage is a huge challenge. You have to pay your employees more, but they have less experience. It affects entrepreneurs.

Gijsbregt Brouwer, observer of food trends

Is the supply still sufficient? According to Nelissen, yes. “The number of caterers that have gone bankrupt is small. I know many people who have started doing something different. Or they have become smaller: a few food trucks leave the door and go back behind the counter. The lack of staff is It’s a huge challenge, you have to pay employees more, but they have less experience.

She doesn’t expect entrepreneurs to cut portions or raise prices because of rising commodity and gasoline prices. “I’m afraid it’s inevitable.”

High demand for pizza

Old Scuola has two restaurants in Rotterdam and eight food trucks. This season, a certain number of trucks are voluntarily stopped. “We have been doing festival catering for ten years now and this year our pizzas are again in high demand,” says co-owner Daniel van der Stel. The Old Scuola festival agenda is now full, but with deliberately only one venue per weekend. “In 2019, we visited 53 multi-day festivals in four months, now 15.”

“We want to spend as many servings per hour. In this regard, we have a difficult product; we make the pizzas by hand.

Daniel van der Stel, Former Scuola

This season, the caterer will serve the festivals that faithfully reward the company every year, such as Pinkpop, Lowlands and Concert at SEA. At Mysteryland, the company normally has four outlets, but this year with just one. “We are in the catering Champions League and want to spend so many portions per hour. We have a difficult product in this respect; we make the pizzas by hand. A strong team is extremely important. Next year we will cross one step, this year we are slowing down.”

The space that large parties give is occupied by other caterers. Van der Stel: “As a result, I see young creatives doing very cool things at festivals.” The bulk caterers of the past are also reclaiming space, but there’s also room for new, smaller, quality parties, says Brouwer. Bulk takeaways are large food stalls that primarily sell a lot of food quickly. “In short, we have to take those longer lines for granted this year.”

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