With the shaky economy, the foodservice industry has faced rising costs and declining traffic. Certainly, some are faring better than others.

Looking ahead, Timothy Powell, a senior manager at foodservice consultancy Technomic, forecasts minimal growth for the sector. Supermarket foodservice outlets and senior-living foodservice facilities are expected to see the strongest growth, followed by colleges and universities and K-12 schools. Convenience-store foodservice, correctional facilities, hospitals, limited-service restaurants, lodging and recreation foodservice and long-term-care facility foodservice are pegged for modest to minimal growth. He says airlines, business and industry foodservice, and vending are sectors that will decline.

Powell points to five consumer concerns that are impacting foodservice.

  • Lifestyle enhancement: Younger customers are looking for more organic and natural foods, while baby boomers are looking for smaller portions.
  • Flavor desire: Younger customers are more racially and ethnically diverse with sophisticated taste preferences.
  • Corporate social responsibility: Suppliers can market their practices as a point of differentiation, but will be less able to do so as those practices evolve into industry standards due to consumer demand.
  • Informed choices: Consumers want detailed information about menu items. Powell said 86 percent of consumers polled agreed with New York’s decision to mandate calorie counts on menu boards.
  • Value orientation: While consumers are more price conscious and looking for deals, they are still willing to pay more for quality and premium meats, cheeses and breads.