A new report authored by Rabobank's global Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group predicts that growth of spending on food away from home will continue to outpace spending on food at home and, by 2018, will exceed spending on food at home for the first time.
The report looked at the growth of the U.S. quick-service restaurant segment specifically, noting the category's resilience through the economic downturn, managing input costs and responding to changing consumer demands.
In the report, Rabobank analyst Nicholas Fereday notes that the industry's contribution to U.S. GDP exceeds that of food manufacturing. Rabobank predicts restaurants will continue to take an increasing slice of the U.S. consumer food dollar, with leading QSRs being the biggest beneficiaries of consumers' growing preference for eating out versus at home.
Other highlights from the report include:
- The U.S. restaurant industry has an excellent track record of riding out the highs and lows of the business cycle and taking a growing slice of the consumer food dollar;
- Although there was a temporary emphasis on eating more at home during the 2007-2009 recession, that proved to be a blip. Rabobank analysts believe that the U.S. has not reached a turning point in consumer habits or a move back to thrifty habits and home cooking; it would take a cultural sea change to completely reverse consumer behavior and preference for dining out;
- Adept at maintaining brand relevance, the QSR sector will capture most of the gain in spending on food away from home;
- QSRs have adopted a number of successful strategies to either sustain their growth over the long term or to successfully navigate through the current recession and macroeconomic uncertainty;
- By addressing the nutrition and quality issues that currently hound QSRs, coupled with a low-cost service model, the fast casual segment represents a new growth direction for the away-from-home sector.
Rabobank's report also examines some of the successful strategies within the QSR segment. For example, successful QSRs have shown the ability to profit by responding to longer-term lifestyle changes and to emerging trends toward healthy eating options, premium coffee, etc.
Additionally, many leading QSRs have been adept at driving costs out of their supply chain, employing risk management practices and leveraging scale. QSRs also have learned the value of close collaboration, building long-term partnerships with their decentralized supply and distribution networks.
The brands that successfully navigated the recession are the ones that put into place menu diversification strategies, improved the look and feel of their restaurants, added more eating occasions (for example, snacking and breakfast dayparts) and have improved the quality of the dining experience.
Rabobank is a global financial services provider for the food and agriculture industry.
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