Latin American retail expert Jorge Lizan explains the rich food and beverage culture in Latin America and the importance of having the right in-house talent or consultant in developing a food hall strategy.
MAPICWorld: What are the hottest current F&B Trends working in Latin America?
Jorge Lizan: Latin America is one of the leading regions in terms of F&B, but specifically, F&B within shopping centres. Unlike in the US, having food is more than a physiological need, it is a social activity and a very important part of life for Latin Americans. Food is part of all Latin American cultures and some Latin American countries have developed highly sophisticated cuisines. Perhaps, the two countries that were home of the most powerful pre-Hispanic cultures, Mexico and Peru are home now of some of the richest and most innovative cuisines. Lima and Mexico City are culinary capitals of Latin America and some of these cities restaurants rank high as some of the best in the World. Despite the fact that the first Latin America shopping centres were inspired on the American suburban regional mall, they quickly departed from that model and started to develop new and innovative formats. From the very beginning, shopping centres in Latin America included Food on the tenant mix, not only the typical food court with international brands, but there always were casual dining concepts – both local and international.
MAPICWorld: What is the success recipe to expand the F&B concept in Mexico?
Jorge Lizan: For the uneducated, Taco Bell might be the only reference to Mexican food, but it actually isn’t Mexican food. Mexico City has one of the most sophisticated restaurant scenes in the World, but at the same time it is one of the best places for street food and this is also the case all over the country. Shopping Centres have benefitted from this richness for years and have become restaurant hubs. Mexico is the Food Hall capital of Latin America too – there are amazing examples of Food Halls both within shopping centres and other type of locations. Food Hall consultancy is also something that is growing in Mexico, Mero Mole being one of the consultants worth mentioning.
MAPICWorld: What are the latest experiences shopping centers in Latin America are looking to have in their malls to drive up traffic?
Jorge Lizan: Entertainment and “Retailtainment”, including F&B are the new anchors. Mexico is the home country of some of the most innovative entertainment concepts, such as Kidzania. All type of entertainment concepts are present in Latin American shopping centres, from a children’s concepts like Chuck E. Cheese’s to the trendiest clubs and discotheques might gather at a same retail destination.
MAPICWorld: F&B is today a powerful tool to boost footfall, increase revenues and to support retail sales in SC.How to choose the right mix?
Jorge Lizan: Getting the right mix is the key. The Food Hall trend keeps growing, but not all destinations are appropriate for a Food Hall. Developers forcing a Food Hall on a shopping centre are making a huge mistake. Developing and managing a Food Hall has nothing to do with leasing a collecting rent on a Food Court; developers that don’t have the right advice or that don’t build the right in-house talent to handle Food Halls might face a harsh reality in the near future.