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Niche and Ethnic Flavors, Preparations Drive the Barbecue Category, Finds Technomic

CHICAGO (October 28, 2010)—Barbecue concepts, like nearly all restaurants, have found growth elusive as of late. But Technomic’s newest study sheds light on concepts that are outperforming the competition by providing just the right combination of comfort and adventure to hungry patrons.

Technomic’s Market Intelligence Report: Barbecue offers insights into where growth opportunities exist in the category, and how restaurant operators can make the most of them.

“Barbecue was a great starting point for this new series of reports,” says Mary Chapman, Director of Product Innovation at Technomic. “Barbecue is known for its complex mixture of flavors and preparation methods, and the category as a whole represents that same intriguing complexity. It is a highly regional and evolving category, with some larger chains declining in sales and units, and other emerging chains poised to take their place.”

Chapman points out that while the barbecue category as a whole was down 6.7 percent in 2009, high growth rates were achieved by concepts taking advantage of trends involving ethnic flavors and preparations, such as Hawaiian and Korean barbecue. American style concepts able to differentiate themselves as best in class have also seen growth in spite of recent economic challenges.

Key report findings include: 

  • Consumers continue to seek out more healthful options when dining out, but many do not realize that barbecue preparations or sauces can add a savory quality to food without additional fat or sodium.
  • Barbecue has appeal across multiple dayparts, but consumer preferences vary depending on whether an entrée incorporates chicken, beef, or pork.
  • Barbecue menu items are able to touch on each of the top flavor attributes listed by consumers, and can be suited to each customer’s taste through the variety of preparation methods and sauces available.

The 2010 Market Intelligence Report: Barbecue includes data from Technomic’s exclusive MenuMonitor online trend-tracking resource, which analyzes the menus of more than 1,200 top chain, emerging concepts and leading independent restaurants. It features data culled from Technomic’s Consumer Trend Reports, especially the Center of the Plate series, which examine beef and pork, as well as poultry entrees. The report also profiles over 30 leading and emerging concepts in the Barbecue category.

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