Value-oriented consumers, increased protein prices and the social media revolution were a few of the trends laid out during presentations by Technomic and GE Capital at the Restaurant Leadership Conference.
“When we talk to consumers about value it’s not just about price,” explained Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic. “Operators need to focus on other value drivers: atmosphere, service level, convenience, quality. Was it worth the money they spent versus their expectations.”
Todd S. Jones, managing director of GE Capital, Franchise Finance, said increased protein prices aren’t at a critical level right now, but that we can expect it to remain a trend.
“China’s middleclass is growing,” he said. “And that’s creating more competition for protein… As demand comes from emerging markets around the world we’ll be watching this closely.”
And, as he pointed out, for first time the United States is a net exporter of beef.
Other trends the companies outlined:
- Both companies pointed out the continued importance of social media in the lives of consumers and in the marketing of restaurants.
- Everybody from indies to regional chains to national players are moving into food trucks.
- World unrest, rising food and gas prices will keep consumers nervous.
- High-profile independents are creating chains (think Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack).
- BYOF: bars and beverage concepts letting customers bring in or order food from other restaurants.
- The increased presence of gluten-free menus and their halo of healthfulness.
- Farm-labeled foods.
- And the Pandora’s Box of calorie labeling.