What is in this article?:
- 10 trends shaping the restaurant industry in 2014
- Segment strengths, protein prices and more
Unique menu items and increased spending among older consumers are two trends that will impact foodservice next year, The NPD Group says.
Senior diners are expected to increase their spending at restaurants in 2014.
Segment strengths, protein prices and more
• Segment strengths. NPD forecasts indicate that traffic will build for fast-casual restaurants, sub shops and gourmet coffee/donut outlets.
“Additionally, convenience stores are likely to experience traffic growth as they take advantage of consumers’ current tendency to ‘trade down’ from more expensive options,” NPD said, adding that food retailers with convenient meal options would capture more visits from traditional restaurants.
“Those supermarket meal sales are growing at double-digit rates for lunch, and also growing for dinner at rates much higher than for the industry overall,” Riggs said, citing Whole Foods Market and Mariano’s Fresh Market.
• Protein prices. An expected rise in beef prices and lower chicken prices will be reflected in menu offerings.
“You’ll see an increased focus on other proteins because of the high cost of beef,” Riggs said.
• Population shifts and diversity impacts on menus. The influence of the growing U.S. Hispanic population is reflected in the increased popularity of fruits, juice drinks and more flavorful spices and seasonings, NPD said. And the growing Asian population carries its influence on menus, as well, with noodles, rice, specialty sauces, and other foods and flavors.
• Strong baby boomer and senior spending. Boomers and their older counterparts have been less affected by prolonged high unemployment and the recession, NPD reported.
“These individuals have continued to visit restaurants at an ever-increasing rate,” NPD said. “While their food and beverage preferences may differ from those of the younger set, many older consumers are bringing their ‘younger’ preferences with them.”
• Changing incentives. Paper coupons gave way years ago to tiered pricing strategies, combo meal offers, sweepstakes and value menu items. With greater online availability, coupons are again popular, NPD said, but loyalty rewards are also increasing.
“Going forward, rotating offers and creating new ways to entice consumers to visit must be a part of any operator’s marketing plan,” NPD said.
• Mobile technology. Mobile devices continue to grow as important tools for consumers, who expect most of their needs to be met with the devices, NPD said. Consumers’ use of mobile devices for ordering and paying for meals and reporting on the meal experience will continue to grow.
• Healthful menu offerings. Consumers’ interest in healthful meal options is tied to the health needs of boomers and older individuals, the growth in ethnic groups accustomed to fresh food preparation, and greater awareness of the need for and benefits of healthful eating among younger patrons. As an example, NPD found a growing number of consumers who prefer gluten-free foods, not because of required dietary restrictions, but because of the benefits of overall more healthful eating.
• Fine-dining strength. “Fine dining, from our view, has fully recovered from the recession and is growing,” NPD said.
The segment will continue to offer more casual décor and accept casual attire.
• New concepts. NPD said the industry can expect more innovation from new concepts, such as Houston-based My Fit Foods, with more than 60 units, and Chicago-based Lyfe Kitchen, with four units. Both address the interest in fresh and healthful food, as well as portion options.
“This plays into giving consumers more choices and healthier options,” Riggs said. “These concepts allow consumers to buy different sized portions: small-, medium- and large-sized. You can eat very healthy. There’s a lot of innovation and flavor profiles in those offerings.”