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Food Service & Restaurant Industry Overview: Latest Market Reports

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Global Restaurant & Food Services Industry Overview

Restaurants and food service companies serve meals and snacks for immediate consumption. The Food Services Industry is a segment of the much bigger Food Industry as well as the Tourism and Leisure Industry.

Restaurant types include self-service, assisted service, service at table, takeaways and home deliveries. The industry also includes catering services, for example for companies, institutions and events. Cafés and restaurants represent the leading market segment at over 50% of overall industry value.

Key Food Services Markets

The U.S., China, Japan and Europe are the key food services markets.

China has the largest food services market in the world with sales projected to grow at a CAGR of 9.6% until 2019.

The U.S. food services market’s sales are projected to reach$798.7 billion in 2017 according to the National Restaurant Association.

Key Restaurant Industry Players

Compass Group and McDonald’s are global top players, specializing in catering services and fast-food restaurants respectively.

Compass Group is a U.K.-based food service provider. It offers food and supporting services across 50 countries, employing around 500,000 people according to the company. It serves over 4 billion meals annually in healthcare facilities, retirement homes, education centers, sports facilities, and other organizations.

McDonald’s is the largest food services retailer in the world, with over 36,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries according to the company. It is a self-service restaurant chain which primarily sells burgers (made from beef, chicken, fish or vegetables), fries, soft drinks and ice creams. In recent years the company has responded to the trend towards healthy eating by introducing salads and wraps.

Food Services Market Forecast

With a CAGR of 6.8%, global food services industry revenues will rise to $3.8 trillion by the end of 2019 according to Euromonitor.

Asia Pacific and Latin America are forecast to be the key drivers of this growth.

Key Trends and Strategies for Growth in the Restaurants and Food Services Industry

Four trends are shaping the food services industry.

Digital Technology is a Key Communication Tool

Digital technology is allowing food services companies to communicate with and understand their customers. Companies use a range of social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to communicate with customers.

Search engine optimization is important as more people search online for food options, particularly through mobile devices. Restaurants should encourage customers to post photos, events, customer polls and recommendations to increase customer engagement. Careful media monitoring is also important as social media has the potential to damage as well as enhance companies’ reputations.  In addition, mobile applications which make customers aware of the restaurants in the area where they are located will help them to attract more traffic.

Customers Want Faster and More Convenient Dining

Customers are increasingly time poor and reluctant to go through a formal dining experience, reducing the attractiveness of ‘at table' service restaurants. As a result, customer traffic is expected to increase for fast-food restaurants, gourmet coffee ‘shops’ and donut outlets.

Restaurants should use digital technology to cut service times for customers. Moreover, in-store tabletop tablet computers and menu boards enhance brand value.

Healthier and More Varied Food Choices Required

Consumer preferences have shifted towards healthier and higher-quality cuisines. For example, the rapid growth of alternatives to dairy products such as soy milk, almond milk and frozen yoghurt reflect this trend. Changing demographics and global travel are also increasing consumers’ taste for a wide range of ethnic cuisines. The main industry players modify their menus to accommodate different customer preferences. An example is the way McDonald’s offers chicken burgers but not beef burgers in India.

Food service companies need to be strongly aware of these trends in developing their menus.

The Chinese Middle Class is becoming a Key Battle Ground for Foodservice Companies

With the increasing buying power of the expanding Chinese middle class, major Western food service brands are taking an increasing share of the Chinese market, thereby reducing the share of independently operated small restaurants/street stalls.  To gain greater market share in emerging markets such as China, international food services companies should consider entering strategic deals. International firms can also make small acquisitions in new markets to enhance their local expertise and product portfolios. Domestic firms can enter into defensive mergers to acquire greater market share in their home country.

Leading Restaurant Industry Associations

  1. International Food Service Manufacturers Association
  2. National Restaurant Association
  3. Food Service Europe
  4. Foodservice Industry Association
  5. Foodservice Packaging Association


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