Consumer Trends

Consumer trends, insights and preferences

Consumer Trends

Snacking strengthens restaurant spending

Restaurants are increasingly relying on snacks to entice customers to purchase additional foods and beverages, according to Snack and Dessert Trends in the U.S. Foodservice Market by research publisher Packaged Facts. “Snack foods are the means through which foodservice players are boosting mid-morning and mid-afternoon sales and driving guest traffic,” says Don Montouri, publisher of Packaged Facts.

Consumer Trends

Three-Year High for Restaurant Performance Index

Restaurant operators have seen improving same-store sales and increases in customer traffic, triggering a rise in the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) in October, 2010. The RPI, a monthly index that tracks the health and outlook of the U.S. restaurant industry, is the highest since 2007, sparking optimism from restaurant operators hit hard by the recession.

This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasted the lowest consumer price index rise of food prices since 1992. However, due to expected higher food commodity and energy prices, this trend is not likely to continue. With that in mind, the USDA is predicting an inflation of food prices in 2011.

Although only about 2.6 percent of Americans (or 7.6 million people) suffer from food allergies, reports the National Institutes of Health, there is evidence that specific demographics may be at greater risk. Factors behind these age, ethnicity and gender discrepancies are not clear yet to researchers, but they have drawn a correlation between food allergy sufferers and asthma attacks.

More Americans are classified as obese than ever before, yet a large proportion of obese people do not think they are fat, according to a study conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Tiffany M. Powell and colleagues found that among 2,000 obese Dallas county residents, only a small percentage believed they needed to lose weight.

After three years of dramatic recession-induced decline, families—with their kids in tow—started returning to restaurants this summer. Though the numbers are still not near where they were in the Fall of 2006, the positive uptick shows that restaurant business is beginning to pick up for families with children, reports The NPD Group in its foodservice market research.

With the economic slump continuing and the already vast selection of beers, wines and liquors on the market growing in size and scope, it is no wonder that a recent Gallup poll indicates that the rate of alcohol consumption among Americans is at a 25-year high.

BizBuySell.com, an online marketplace, has released data on business-for-sale transactions in the restaurant industry. According to BizBuySell’s third quarter Insight Report, there has been a slight increase in restaurant business sales from last year, yet the number of closed transactions is still well short of pre-recession sales.

Purchasers of gourmet food products may make some concessions to stay within budget, but they are not wiling to compromise on sophisticated taste—they are merely finding more wallet-friendly ways to indulge. That was the major finding reported in Packaged Facts’ Gourmet, Specialty and Premium Foods, Beverages and Consumer Trends in the U.S., 8th Edition.

Despite most global restaurant and foodservice visits still down, there was slight growth in the quarter ending June 2010 compared to a year ago. The NPD Group found that increased consumer traffic occurred mainly in China and Canada. The economic recovery and increased consumer confidence in China helped spark the boom in foodservice spending while the rest of the world remained relatively stagnant.

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