Take-Out Taking Over at Restaurants: Study

CHICAGO - Takeout sales at casual-dining chains have grown at an annual rate of nearly 10 percent over the last three years, almost twice the pace of overall industry sales growth, according to results of a new study by Technomic Inc. here.

Based on in-depth industry analysis and quantitative research on over 1,500 consumers, Technomic's new Takeout Category Report underscores foodservice operators' growing interest in takeout meals, which offer a solid way to grow sales without investing in more units.

More recently, curbside takeout, which has become a fast-growing trend at many casual-dining chains, is attracting the attention of other retailers eager to get in on the action, including Whole Foods Market, Publix Super Markets, HoneyBaked Ham; and a growing easy-meal-assembly segment, all competing for the food dollar of time-pressed families.

"We still see substantial growth opportunities in the takeout segment," said Darren Tristano, e.v.p./Technomic Information Services. "Consumers now have more sophisticated tastes, but even less time to cook. Takeout operators that give them convenience without compromising quality will be able to capture substantial incremental sales."

Suppliers can also play a key role in developing menu items with eat-at-home appeal, and packaging that retains food freshness in transit, Tristano noted.

Among the key takeaways of the new takeout report is the finding that the proportion of consumers who order takeout "on the go" from their car or elsewhere on their cell phone is growing rapidly. Nearly three out of 10 consumers (29 percent) who ordered takeout did so from their cell phone, nearly double the rate of on-the-go ordering from just two years ago.

Further, a greater percentage of consumers than ever before are using takeout as home meal replacements, opting to order food during transit and consuming it in the comfort of their homes.

Food taste and integrity is of the utmost importance when utilizing takeout, said Technomic. While patrons appreciate convenient features like curbside pickup and dedicated parking, their top priorities center on being able to duplicate at-the-restaurant quality in the comfort of their home.

The report also evaluates the most recent takeout occasions, appealing takeout attributes, usage from non-restaurant locations, and packaging issues.

For more information, visit www.foodpubs.com.
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