In Their Own Words: NRA’s And Technomic’s Operator Outlooks For 2011

In preparation for our annual market-forecast articles in next month’s Foodservice Equipment Reports, we asked our friends Joe Pawlak, v.p. at Technomic Inc., and Hudson Riehle, senior v.p. of the National Restaurant Association’s Research and Knowledge Group, for their outlooks on how the foodservice market will fare next year. Both help oversee their organizations’ annual forecasts of operator sales. We thought you might find their verbatim responses interesting and useful, as we did.

Pawlak: “Things are looking better (finally), and it appears we are off the bottom. The issue is the bounce up is not what we would like to see. It will take a long time to return to 2007 levels in terms of real foodservice sales.”

Riehle: “The operating environment for the restaurant industry will improve in 2011 and the positive developments we are currently seeing will continue. Next year will be better than the last couple of years, but growth will not be as robust as before the economic downturn.

“Consumers’ pent-up demand for restaurants will remain elevated and industry employment will continue to grow, boding a generally improving environment for the restaurant industry overall. However, while national employment growth will be better than recent years, it will be modest by historical terms, resulting in consumers continuing to spend cautiously overall.”

Pawlak: “There is increasing concern on commodity pricing going forward, which could change the game tremendously, as value pricing has been driving volume in the industry over the past two-and-a-half years. Also, watch out for gas prices again!”

Riehle: “While challenges remain, the road to recovery has become wider, providing ample opportunities for focused operators and suppliers alike.”

Thank you, gentlemen.

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