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Restaurant industry projected to grow 50% over the next decade

The National Restaurant Association expects the industry will hit $1.2 trillion in sales by 2030 as its reach broadens.

What will the restaurant industry look like 10 years from now?

Well, for one thing, it will be a lot bigger and broader, at least according to the National Restaurant Association, which on Monday said it expects the industry’s sales to reach $1.2 trillion by 2030.

That would represent growth of nearly 50% from 2018’s $833 million, according to the association’s Restaurant Industry 2030 Report, which is based on input from experts, futurists and government statistics. The report was created along with American Express and Nestle Professional.

The Association expects the industry to add another 2 million employees over the coming decade as it finds new ways to serve prepared food to consumers. By 2030, as many as 17.2 million people are expected to be employed in a restaurant.

“Restaurant owners are swiftly adapting across their businesses to meet the needs and wants of guests,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Association’s research and knowledge group, in a statement. “The radical transformation of the last decade will change the way the industry operates going forward.”

The restaurant industry has evolved considerably in recent years, focusing more on takeout and getting food into consumers’ homes. It has also broadened its reach, with more food trucks, in-store kiosks and counters and other nontraditional locations.

The Association expects that the definition of what constitutes a restaurant will continue to grow with mounting off-premise demand.

The Association believes that the growth in off-premise sales will mean more food eaten at home will be prepared elsewhere. Expect more delivery, virtual restaurants, subscription services and grab-and-go retail locations.

Cloud kitchens will continue to grow as delivery-only brands begin to take root. Consumers might grow more loyal to these brands, and to third-party apps, which could have a major impact on traditional restaurants.

All of this will lead to more regulation of third-party delivery services. And it will change how restaurants look: smaller, for the most part.

Restaurants’ labor force will also continue to change. Specifically, it will keep getting older.

In 1978, 9.7 million restaurant employees were 16 to 19, and just 3.1 million were over 65.

By last year, those numbers had mostly reversed: 5.9 million teens were in the workforce, and 10 million seniors were employed or looking.

By 2030, the numbers will be even more dramatic: 5.1 million teens versus 16.1 million older employees. In other words: Restaurants and other businesses that historically relied on younger workers will need to broaden their scope. Or find more efficiencies.

That shift will come along with a modest growth in the population. The U.S. population is expected to grow at a 0.7% annual rate, as it has during the past decade. Much of that growth will be in the South and the West.

All of that population growth will come from minority groups. The non-Hispanic white population is expected to decline slightly, to 198 million from 198.6 million.

By 2030, there will be another 12.5 million Hispanic or Latino Americans, another 4.3 million African Americans and another 4.4 million Asian Americans.

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