Forward Thinking for Foodservice Operators


You can’t erase the past, but you can be informed about the future.

Foodservice operators might have done a few things differently in 2007 if they knew what they know now. A crystal ball that signalled which food and beverage items, restaurant categories or dayparts were poised for growth could have offered helpful revenue-leveraging opportunities.

And, though we can’t go back, we can look ahead to 2012 and beyond with the NPD Group’s new report, “A Look into the Future of Foodservice.” The report reveals how consumer restaurant visit behaviour will evolve during the next five years with forecasts designed to help operators keep ahead of the curve and formulate forward-thinking business strategies to maximize growth potential.

Onward and Upward

During the next five years, visits to Canadian restaurants are forecast to grow an average of 1.7 per cent per year, outpacing the 1.2 per cent per year growth in the country’s population and putting per capita visits at 196 per year, just ahead of 2007 numbers.

Here We Grow

The “Future of Foodservice” report provides forecasts based on the aging Canadian population, population growth and recent trends. As consumers age, they become lighter buyers. So, as Baby Boomers reach their senior years, the restaurant industry will be more dependent on lighter users.

It’s easier to align business plans for future success by understanding and taking advantage of predicted shifts in eating habits and practices. Similarly, it’s just as important to identify which food and beverage products are expected to contract so potential product risks can be managed.

The good news? It’s predicted that as Canadians age during the next five years there will be a moderate benefit to the restaurant industry. For example, the younger contingent of baby boomers, born between 1956 and 1966, will be between the age of 50 and 60 in 2016. And, since this group makes up 17 per cent of the population, and have historically driven many restaurants trends, they will drive growth for mid-scale sit-down restaurants with varied menus, for QSR burger restaurants and for prepared food from retail food stores. These boomers will also be instrumental in boosting the sales of better-for-you entrées, breakfast sandwiches, desserts and Chinese food. While some of these categories won’t be growing in the overall marketplace, an operator can ensure growth by effectively targeting back-end boomers.

So put away the crystal ball and tea leaves,  there’s solid statistical forecasts to consider. And remember: although forecasts can be helpful, they aren’t absolute. Stats are used to assess potential opportunities and risks for the purpose of long-term planning, but the future course can be altered with initiatives such as innovative product introductions and marketing.     


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