Eat In Eat Out
Issue 1.0, Fall 2009
Dining Up. Value drives a diminished restaurant industry in the throes of a lingering recession. With more shrinkage ahead, consumers are still going out to eat, even if not as often and with lower expenditures per visit. Cuisine evolution continues meanwhile. Chefs look to local sourcing, artisanal ingredients, and fresh everything to define one side of a “green” movement while energy savings and eco-friendly practices define the other.
Trend Targets. Two recent arrivals on the ingredient scene attract attention in restaurant kitchens: black garlic and Sechuan buttons. Other hot attractors: kitchen gardens and noodles — all styles, all cuisines.
Destination Clusters. Synergy is the goal as fast casual and upscale fast casual restaurant chains deliberately gang up in prime destination sites.
Mis-Steaks. Upscale steakhouse chains are battered by the recession, with declining traffic and sales, but quality still rules. Looking to the future, this segment hopes to capitalize on younger generations as replacements for aging baby boomers.
Fast Forward. Competition meets recession in the fast food industry, and value-driven menus are spawned. Simultaneous results: large-portions get bigger (more bang for the buck) and down-sized portions proliferate (smaller size, smaller price).
Foodie Nation. A new cross-generational group of consumers is expanding rapidly, generating excitement, traffic, and sales in restaurants, street food, and supermarkets. Meet the foodies, taste-driven aficionados who seek out gourmet-level experiences wherever food and beverages are found.
Supermarket Sense. Despite innovations at specialty food stores and chains such as Whole Foods Markets, mainstream grocery shopping gravitates toward big box discounting. The winners and continuing champs: Costco and Wal-Mart, with other chains hot on their heels. At every segment of this major industry, home meal replacement and private label packaging experience the most activity.
Retail Horizons. Two segments of the retail grocery industry represent the near future of food shopping: specialty markets and supermarkets. Both focus on high quality, local sourcing, and customer service.
Burger Kings. Cheap meat may buoy sales in the value-driven fast food market, but the all-American hamburger is also starring in fast casual and fine dining establishments. In this exalted form, tradition, high quality ingredients, and taste win out over mega-servings.
Pork Platitudes. Despite paranoia about pigs — swine flu run rampant — pork may have the last laugh. Upscale pork products are edging into the dining market from the top down, inspired by a rebirth of the artisanal butcher, heritage pig breeds, and influence from European and ethnic traditions. Lardo anyone?
Root Rallies. The recession may have driven more people to the garden, but local sourcing, freshness, and an expanding culinary menu now place backyard agriculture on a firmer footing. Consumers, communities, farmer’s markets, celebrity chefs, and fine dining establishments contribute to this trend.
Wheel Food. Cheap and convenient, and increasingly complex, food from carts, trailers, and trucks emerges as a bright new segment of the dining industry. And unlike in previous eras, street food now begins to outdistance its singular former characteristic — affordability — in favor of variety, ethnic influence, and culinary exploration.
Hot Dog History. The wiener has outlasted civilizations and spread across continents, a standard for affordable street food.
Down the Hatch. Booze weathers the recession, but not all segments of the market avoid damage. Price dictates value, from beer to wine, even as an upstart domestic category looms on the horizon: artisanal spirits.
Function Junction. Energy drinks defy marketing convention — the more products, the greater the demand — even as bottled water products begin to tank. But is saturation on the horizon?
Timely Teas. Traditional green and black teas are hot — and cold! Consumer demand has triggered rapid growth in outlets serving fresh teas, but supermarkets also contribute to the trend, with an increase in SKUs for packaged tea products.
Leftover Hits. Late-breaking items and lists of hot concepts: Flour power, Local dairy, Connoisseur preserves, Leading leaves, Emerging delicacies, and Cuisine horizons.
Food Online. On the Internet, URLs for Web sites, blogs, and Twitter sites for foodies, industry groups, and industry media. Plus: key portal sites for discovering food, dining, and beverage blogs.
Vital Statistics. Key numerical facts for 2010, 2008, and benchmark year 2000. Categories: population, median age, number of households, avg. household size, number of families, avg. family size, number of supermarkets, supermarket sales, food expenditures in home, food expenditures out of home, number of eating/drinking outlets, number of fast food outlets, meals eaten from restaurants, total restaurant sales, restaurant employment, organic food sales, alcohol expenditures, alcohol sales on premises. Plus: key metrics for five major demographic groups — children, Generation Y, Generation X, Baby boom, and Seniors.
Index. Key terms, general trends, specific items, company names, publications, trade associations.