Why Foodservice Is Hot—and ‘How’

Paul Reuter, Founder and former CEO, CSP

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In last month’s column, I addressed the big question that came out of the NACS® State of the Industry Summit: “Foodservice offers opportunity, but how?” We are very focused on providing answers to that question!

CSP Information Group is now the largest publisher in the foodservice industry, with a magazine, online presence and conference in every key foodservice channel. As we recently announced, we’ve added the magazines Restaurant Business and FoodService Director and the website Monkey- Dish.com to our stable. Our Faremagazine and Foodservice at Retail Exchange (FARE) continue to grow, along with the rest of the CSP family of products. Each month our product portfolio reaches an audience well over 300,000 across many industries.

We know that one of the real strengths of the c-store industry is its willingness to share with each other. But we also know foodservice learnings come from the overall foodservice industry. We have identified the learning experience and labeled it the “theory of parallels.” This thinking and focus is the purpose of our third annual FARE conference, coming up June 28–30 in Chicago. We have singularly the best education offering anywhere, and our record attendance illustrates just how many others are in the same camp with us.

Speaking of foodservice, I just spent three days at the annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show, and I came away from the show bullish. Among other things, I learned about 10 trends for 2010. The ones most interesting for this industry:

Burgers and sandwiches continue to grow in scope and style. The NPD Group/Crest reports that these two categories were the only ones to post servings growth at both QSRs and full-service restaurants in 2009.

Do-it-yourself (DIY) is the next step in customization. Building your own sandwich, pizza or cocktail ties into the trend of interactive dining and the quest for experimentation.

Menu labeling: Mandatory or voluntary, nutritional data on menus is becoming more widespread. While french fries and jumbo burgers are not going away, restaurants are introducing healthier options to balance out fat- and calorie-laden items.

Clean labels: Consumers are “vetting” their food choices, and food sources and operators are looking for products to please them. That means shorter, simpler lists of more recognizable ingredients.

A rosier economic picture is developing for the industry. In the May 24 issue of The Wall Street Journal, the story “Economists See Solid Growth” predicted U.S. gross domestic product would expand to 3.2% this year and next. The data came from a survey of 46 economists from the National Association for Business Economics.

Other notable points in the story: “Growth prospects are stronger, unemployment and inflation are lower, and worries relating to consumer confidence retrenchment and domestic financial headwinds have diminished.”

“Spending will be helped by a gradually improving labor market.” “Business spending also will drive the economy’s expansion. ... Spending on equipment and software [will be] buoyed by higher profits.”

A key part of our store traffic— construction—is still hurting. Home building continues to be weak. However, the fact that mortgage rates (e.g., the 30-year mortgage) have not gone up as predicted should stimulate the construction industry a bit. (The week of May 14, the fixed rate was low: 4.25%.)

So “Foodservice—how?” Well, for sure, the fight for share of stomach will intensify, and CSP will do all it can to help you get your share—and then some!

E-mail me at [email protected] if you would like a list of all 10 trends reported at the NRA Show.

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