Given the industry’s rapid pace of change and its pressure-cooker competitive landscape, foodservice operations seem to constantly experiment with recipes for success that may or may not pan out. Now major chains are strategizing ways to leverage technological breakthroughs with minimal risk and maximum return on investment.
Americans are a snack-happy bunch—and as the market research firm NPD Group reports, they’re growing appetite for grazing on snacks is eating into the traditional pattern of three large meals a day.1 And the sheer volume of snacks consumed in the U.S. is surging. Consumers munched on an estimated 386 billion ready-to-eat foods last year, up from 356.billion in 2011.1
Better-for-you menu innovation may be a great way to boost sales, but better for others is giving operators plenty of food of thought, too. In fact, good will is increasingly good business, according to the market research firm Mintel, which found that 97% of consumers surveyed agree it’s important that companies act morally/ethically--a significant jump from 76% a few years earlier.1
As the local sourcing and farm-to-table frenzy shows, consumers have fallen head over heels for fresh ingredients. “Freshness is a top snack attribute,”1 according to survey results from the research firm Technomic. In fact, 63% of consumers surveyed demand freshness first and foremost.2 Women in particular favor freshness (67%), compared to 59% of men.2
As their influence grows, chefs are not only cooking the dishes—they’re calling the shots. According to the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot2019 Culinary Forecast, chef-driven fast casual restaurant concepts rank among the year’s Top Ten Trends.1 And when the report drills down to the top restaurant concepts, chef-driven fast casuals are ranked highest.2