By Derrek J. Hull, Blogger-in-Chief
With the economy improving, the restaurant industry is projected to show improvement in 2010, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2010 Restaurant Industry Forecast.
Restaurant industry sales are forecasted to top $580 this year, a 2.5 percent increase over 2009. Job growth is also expected to pick up in 2010, and the restaurant industry is slated to add 1.3 million career and employment opportunities by 2020.
Consumers continue to seek value, convenience and expanded menu options in 2010 – and restaurants are stepping up to the plate to deliver. Pent-up consumer demand for dining out more often will pick up as the economy continues this upward movement.
Social media will play an even bigger role in restaurant marketing efforts. “Word of mouth” has moved online, and more consumers are using the Web to browse menus, make reservations, and get recommendations from other diners.
With 4 in 10 consumers saying they choose restaurants based on their conservation practices, restaurant operators continue to step up their efforts to go green. Four of 10 fullservice and 31 percent of quickservice operators plan to devote more resources to green initiatives this year.
According to the What's Hot in 2010 survey of more than 1,800 American Culinary Federation chef members, this year’s top trends on menus will be locally sourced food, sustainability, and health and nutrition. Seventy percent of consumers say they are more likely to visit restaurants that offer locally produced food, and nearly three out of four say they are trying to eat healthier in restaurants now more than they did just two years ago.
Also, be on the lookout for ethnic cuisines and flavors as hot menu trend this year, including regional ethnic cuisine and fusion cuisine. Consumers are interested in trying French, Spanish, Japanese (other than sushi), Thai, Cajun/Creole, soul food and sushi.
How are economic conditions affecting your business? The National Restaurant Association's annual NRA Show and International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event are places where the industry will come together to uncover opportunities to more effectively serve customers in this new economy.