Foodservice Equipment Reports

Traffic Remained Flat for Year Ending April, Says NPD

While restaurant traffic finally picked up in the last quarter of 2014, it remained flat for the year ending in April, according to The NPD Group. Spending rose 3% during the period, thanks mostly to menu-price increases, the Rosemont, Ill.-based research firm reported. Annual per-capita visits fell to 190 in 2014, down three visits from the previous year.

The most dramatic change in foodservice usage has been among young adults, the Millennials aged 18-34. Traditionally the heaviest users of foodservice, the cohort has cut visits dramatically. Those aged 25-34, who are more likely to have families, have cut back the most, making 50 fewer visits per person per year since before the recession. Younger adults, aged 18-24, cut back by 33 visits in 2014 compared with 2007. Based on NPD data, Millennials as a whole ate eight more meals at home last year.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported that foodservice spending exceeded spending at grocery stores for the first time in history, although part of the change comes from the Bureau not including grocery spending at big-box retailers. NPD said the average cost of a restaurant meal in the U.S. was $6.96 last year vs. $2.31 for a meal prepared at home.

“It’s a battle for share within the foodservice industry and a battle for food dollars between in-home and away-from-home dining,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD Restaurant Industry Analyst. “In order to grow, foodservice manufacturers and operators need to have a clear understanding of consumer expectations and then they need to meet those expectations.”

Information on NPD research products can be found at npd.com.