Restaurant Industry Trends for 2008

The National Restaurant Association recently released its 2008 Restaurant Industry Forecast revealing several key trends within the restaurant industry. According to its findings, American consumers are seeking unique flavors, specialized foods, and convenience. The restaurant industry is expected to respond to consumer demand by offering more variety and ordering options.

The following is a brief summary of the major trends predicted for the coming year.

Consumers are more health conscious. Americans are more focused on health and nutrition then they were two years ago with 76% of adults and 73% of teenagers responding that they are choosing more healthy options when dining out. In response, restaurants are providing healthy meal options and smaller portions.

Going green is going strong. Green consciousness is effecting the restaurant industry in two major ways. Restaurants are operating in a more environmentally- friendly way by having equipment that saves water or energy, or by offering supplies and packaging made of eco-friendly materials. A small percentage of restaurants are also offering organic or locally grown food, sustainable seafood and meats.

According to the Restaurant Industry Forecast, 62% of consumers say they are likely to choose a restaurant based on how environmentally friendly it is.

Look for food on the go.
With tight or hectic schedules, most consumers are looking for ways to take the food they love with them. Popular takeout options among restaurants include: curbside pickup, drive-thru, catering, and delivery. Approximately half of the consumers surveyed said that they would use curbside pickup or delivery if offered by their favorite table service restaurant.

People want more ordering options. Consumers are looking for convenience and control when it comes to placing orders. Restaurants are allowing consumers to place orders via the Internet, fax or cell phone. Consumers are also seeking ways to customize menu items, initiate self-activated ordering and make prepayments.

In general, the restaurant industry in 2008 is expected to out perform the previous year. It is also predicted that approximately two million new career and employment opportunities will open up in the next decade. Since the average American adult buys a meal or a snack from a restaurant or foodservice outlet about 6 times a week, it is no surprise why this industry is going strong.

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