“The oldest of Generation Z will be 22 years old this year and they are just beginning to make their mark on dining out and eating trends, finds The NPD Group, which tracks on a daily basis all aspects of how consumers eat. Gen Zs made 14.6 billion restaurant visits in 2018 and now represent 10% of total food service traffic. A large percentage of this generational group have been raised to put a greater emphasis on the quality of food, whether it’s clean, fresh, or nutritionally beneficial, as well as its flavor and function. Their attitudes and behaviors about the foods they consume are now being reflected across grocery shelves and cases.”
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With restaurant traffic stuck between a 1 percent increase and flat for several years now, U.S. restaurant chains are turning to value deals, new menu items, or optimizing menus to focus on high performing items in order to drive more customer traffic, according to The NPD Group. Total U.S. restaurant traffic ended 2017 flat and had it not been for a 1 percent increase in quick service restaurant visits, an increase primarily driven by chains, traffic would have declined, reports NPD, which continually tracks the foodservice industry.
Here’s what restaurant experts say will be the biggest limited-service trends this year. Tech runs wild: Tech is where it’s at for the fast-food and fast-casual sectors, says Gary Stibel, founder of New England Consulting Group. He says this will affect everything from ordering to pick-up to delivery. And curbside pick-up will explode in 2017 as improvements are made.
Offerings are getting leaner at several limited-service chains after years of adding products to menus. The shift toward narrower menus is coming amid a demassification of the restaurant industry. Consumers are gravitating toward specialty concepts and away from chains with broader menus.