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Log In / Register | Jul 21, 2018

Restaurants Need to Shift to a New World, Argues Expert

Consumer demographics in the restaurant industry are changing in a fundamental way, argues an industry expert. Boomers are visiting restaurants less and the younger Millennials are demanding more authenticity, freshness and social consciousness from their restaurants.

On top of that, there are key shifts with how consumers shop, define convenience, use foodservice outlets, and seek wellness. There are also channel disruptions occurring and a heated increase in competition between brands to grab consumer mindshare.

David Portalatin, NPD vice president, industry analyst and author of Eating Patterns in America, thinks those factors are fundamentally challenging the restaurant industry and indicate slow growth ahead — maybe a world for the industry of one-percent growth a year.

“Consumer eating attitudes and behaviors are evolving in ways that transform long-standing consumption patterns. Shifting demographics, changing meal composition, more fresh foods, and new attitudes on beverages all create challenges for growth,” says David Portalatin.  He cites that aging Boomers are visiting restaurants less, which has significantly contributed to 292 million fewer restaurant visits per year.  “Today’s macro environment isn’t generating organic growth for the food and foodservice sectors so we’re dealing with a one percent world.”

But where there is stagnation there are also growth opportunities for those who are plugged into the changing consumer. Visits might be down but he argues that as consumers enjoy eating out at home, food delivery has increased.

“Although the food and foodservice industries are in a stalled growth mode, there are still pockets of growth,” says Portalatin. “To grow in these challenged markets will require renovation by some, reinvention by others, and by many a deeper understanding of what consumers really need and want.”

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