The Foodservice Sales Story Isn’t As Clear As It May Seem

There have been a bunch of headlines touting how consumer spending on foodservice has surpassed sales of food at retail by 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent. While foodservice operations are rejoicing, the key to the truth behind the Acosta and Technomic 2nd Edition of "The Why? Behind The Dine" report rests in the description: share of consumer spending. 

This is an important distinction, as no one would argue that food that is prepared at restaurants, QSRs and even prepared foods in supermarkets, is more expensive than buying similar offerings in a supermarket and bringing them home to cook and consume. Frankly, the number I would like to see would be based on the volume of food, less waste, to calculate, and just how much food is being consumed from each outlet. Just looking at dollar sales alone is not enough. 

Having said that, I still find value in the finding from the report. 

In the three months prior to surveying consumers for the report, Acosta and Technomic report that 95 percent of consumers prepared meals at home and 85 percent ate restaurant meals, while 17 percent of consumers picked up food at farmer’s markets, which represents triple-digit growth from 15 years ago. Additionally, 16 percent of consumers ate meals from food trucks, alongside 14 percent who ate meals from the dining area of convenience stores and 8 percent who are ordering meal or ingredient kits online for home delivery. 

Enter the grocerant. Consumers are spending $27.5 billion on fresh prepared foods from their supermarkets – a dollar increase of just over 10 percent as compared to overall supermarket growth that is relatively flat. 

The Acosta report says that younger diners and those with children are more likely to embrace grocery prepared food, and 64 percent of Millennials and 67 percent of diners with children bought grocery prepared food in the three months prior to survey, compared to only 57 percent of consumers overall. 

It goes on to point out that grocery shoppers use different digital tools than restaurant diners – relying more on emails (28% vs. 18%) and social networking (20% vs. 15%) than other options. Restaurant diners, on the other hand, are more likely to use mobile websites (17% vs 11%). A wise lesson for those operating grocerants. 


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