NEW YORK - The growth of the quick-service restaurant (QSR) or fast-food sector in the United States has been rising steadily, reports a new study by Rabobank€™s global Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group. In particular, the category has found success in weathering economic downturns, managing input costs and responding to changing consumer tastes.
In the report, Rabobank analyst Nicholas Fereday predicts that restaurants will continue to take an increasing slice of the U.S. consumer food dollar, with leading QSRs being the particular beneficiaries of consumers' growing preference for eating out versus at home.
Overall, the U.S. restaurant industry has an excellent track record of riding out the highs and lows of the business cycle and taking a growing slice of the consumer food dollar. Rabobank predicts the growth of spending on food away from home will continue to outpace spending on food at home and, by 2018, will exceed spending on food at home for the first time.
Although there was a temporary emphasis on eating more at home during the 2007-2009 recession, that proved to be a blip. Contrary to some views, Rabobank believes that the United States has not reached a turning point in consumer habits or a move back to thrifty habits and home cooking. In fact, it would take a cultural sea change to completely reverse consumer behavior and preference for dining out.
Adept at maintaining brand relevance, the QSR sector will capture most of the gain in spending on food away from home. QSRs have adopted a number of winning strategies to either sustain their growth over the long term or to successfully navigate through the current recession and macroeconomic uncertainty.
Many QSRs have introduced new summer menu items to invigorate sales.