Sunday, November 16, 2014

Is The Restaurant Sectors Golden Era Fading

Restaurant sectors unprecedented customer capitulation has created opportunity for new non-traditional retailers.  Today it looks as if the Golden Ear of the restaurant industry passed. More he Golden Ear of the restaurant industry passed and it’s looking as if the peak was in 2000 when studies show that Americans bought 215 meals per person in restaurants. 

In 1993 the US Census Bureau reported that there were 260 Million people living in the US. In 2013 the US Census Bureau reported that the US had 317 Million people living here.  So, let’s look at both sector capitulation then opportunity.

The restaurant sector in 1993 was having a very good year as “Americans purchased 191 meals per person” according to the NPD Group’s Harry Balzer.  Here is the problem the US population has grown 22% since 1993 and customer frequency at restaurants has declined from a high of 215 visits per person a year in 2000 to 191 today the same as in 1993 a decline of 11.1% of visits per person a year. 

The question; is the decline due to ‘sameness’ in menu offerings, look alike concepts, positioning and marketing or the economy.  First we can rule out the economy.  Why, consumers are not eating less according to current obesity studies they are eating more and eating more somewhere else.

Industry Leaders Customer Migration is Underway

Ron Paul founder and CEO of Technomic speaking about consumers eating patterns stated “they are increasingly turning to other forms of foodservice.  Ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat food from grocers and other retailers are increasing in quality and variety and are now well accepted.” Paul continued “This all means that for the restaurant industry, the boom years aren’t coming back any time in the foreseeable future.”

Harry Balzer, Chief Industry Analyst and vice president at NPD Group, when speaking about the 2014 Eating Patterns in America report commented "We are eating more meals at home -- but not cooking more meals,"  "The real foods and beverages of the decade are not hummus, quinoa, nor kale, and not even Sriracha," says Balzer. Rather, he says, its snack foods or simple foods that require little to no preparation.

Clients and regular readers of Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru’s Blog know that Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food is driving the growth of the Grocerant Niche and new non-traditional points of fresh food distribution.

Today consumers are eating 8 of ten meals at home according the 2014 NPD Report Eating Patterns in America.  What is important to note however according to our Grocerant Guru™ “eating at home does not mean cooking from scratch, rather it means a meal assembled from Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meal components that are bundled into a customized mix and match family meal.”

Not traditional Fresh Food Outlets Driving Growth

So, where are the successful non-traditional retailers? To start more and more are coming from retail drug stores the ilk of Walgreens, C-stores the ilk of Sheetz, Rutter’s, and Casey’s General Store and within the Dollar store sector.  

We know most home cooked meals are not cooked from scratch.  A new retail model is emerging a direct to consumer model including companies the ilk of Chef’d, is a delivery service that will bring everything you need to make a gourmet meal - including fresh ingredients - right to your door!

They offer over 100 meal options, including ones made famous by your favorite celebrity chefs and restaurants. Vegan? Not a problem! Chef’d accommodates several diets and lifestyle choices including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free paleo and more visit

Chef’d is not alone there are legacy companies that have joined the ranks expanding their brand Betty Crocker, Whole Foods  and plenty of successful new companies as well including Hello Fresh, Plated, and Munchery, offer online ordering and or event catering all are competing for share of stomach.   

One of the key driving forces behind the fast evolving retail food space has been documented by Foodservice Solutions® team as The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome.  Our Grocerant Guru™ track metrics that are consumer relevant, as the consumer evolves so do the metrics. Are you Looking a Customer Ahead?

Restaurants and fresh food retailers can regain customers while expanding their brand integrating Foodservice Solutions® 5 P’s of food marketing.  Success does leave clues.

Since 1991 retail food consultancy Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche for more on Foodservice Solutions® or for a Grocerant Scorecard visit,  Email:

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