New data released by Restaurants Canada shows substantive changes are taking place in the foodservice landscape.
According to the 2019 Foodservice Facts report, “Canadians under 40 are taking the biggest bite out of the country’s restaurant business, while showing an appetite for environmentally sustainable operations and menu options.” There’s been a continued shift to plant-based protein, sustainable seafood and locally sourced food.
Driving many of these changes is the growing importance of the millennial cohort — and now Generation Z — with the result that foodservice sales grew by 5.1 per cent in 2018, pushing sales to nearly $90 billion (sales are forecast to surpass $100 billion by 2021). This marks five-consecutive years of growth exceeding five per cent, making Canada’s foodservice industry the country’s fastest-growing sector over the past decade.
The newly released report reveals 79 per cent of Gen-Z and 71 per cent of millennial consumers order food or beverages from a restaurant at least once a week. It also shows consumers under 30 spend 44 per cent of their food dollar on food and alcohol from restaurants, compared to 35 per cent for those between the ages of 30 and 39 and just 27 per cent for those 65 and older.
What do these changes mean for foodservice operators? Clearly, with the under-40 cohort driving change, operators need to focus on what matters most to them — environmentally sustainable alternatives, tech-friendly options and a wide range of menu offerings.
The move to increased sustainability has taken hold at many of the country’s leading foodservice chains. Eight out of 10 foodservice operators across Canada now say environmental sustainability is important to their success and 72 per cent say they’ve made changes to their business operations to become more sustainable. While the trend to eliminating plastic straws has been the lightening rod for restaurant sustainability for many operators, it’s also proving to be the first of many steps being taken in the war against plastic.
Interestingly, 98 per cent of operators say they recycle; 93 per cent use energy- or water-saving equipment; and 77 per cent track, compost or donate leftover food. And, with nine out of 10 operators saying they plan to continue or improve on their current level of environmentally sustainable operations over the next three years, consumers can expect myriad other changes.