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Restaurateurs urged to fend off supermarkets by delivering service

takeout food boxes

With supermarkets continuing to steal restaurants' business, operators need to keep a focus on the "service" in foodservice, restaurateurs were told at the 54th annual IFMA Presidents Conference this week in Scottsdale, Ariz.

More than 550 attendees from the restaurant and foodservice industry, including manufacturers, distributors and operators, were encouraged to "take the restaurant into the consumer's home."

Consumers are less concerned with where they eat than with getting what they want when they want it, said David Portalatin, vice president of the NPD Group and a food industry analyst.

The business model of the future is disruption, said Chris Roark, managing director of Accenture. "Growth is coming from the small innovators," he told attendees, noting that the top 25 restaurant chains have recently represented the smallest growth.

Three disrupters include current competitors, those offering an eating experience, and what he called perceptual influencers. "It's more and more about the experience," he said.

Calling it a "1% world," Portalatin said the number of meals per capita that are eaten on-premise at a restaurant are at an all-time low for the fourth consecutive year. He said restaurant meals are eaten at home 40% of the time.

He also noted the growth of meal kits, take-and-bake offerings and "food-forward" convenience stores. C-stores that are focusing on freshly prepared foods and menu variety are driving the growth in retail foodservice and appealing to Gen X and millennials, the generations that have shown a decline in restaurant visits, he said.

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