Culinology - May/June 2011 - (Page 7)

CULINOLOGY Fast-casual segment sets the restaurant sales pace CHICAGO — The recession continues to challenge the food service sector, with cost pressures and declines in consumer dining making growth difficult to sustain. Fast-casual chains, however, have managed to maintain their pace of growth during the recession, according to Technomic, Inc. The market research firm’s “2011 Top 100 Fast-casual Chain Restaurant Report” showed that the category continued to outpace the restaurant industry as a whole in 2010, with the top 100 fast-casual chains growing 6% to nearly $18.9 billion, a faster rate than 2009. The total number of units grew 3.9% to 15,827, which is slightly slower than the prior year, but still faster than any other dining segment. “This category has essentially blown through the recession without skipping a beat,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president. “The real pressures are now coming from other types of concepts that have taken note and are positioning themselves alongside their fast-casual counterparts. Quick-service restaurants are revamping their offerings and décor in an attempt to provide value beyond low prices and take back market share.” Mr. Tristano also noted that increased competition is becoming a concern, as new concepts continue to establish themselves and compete in the fast-casual marketplace. Panera Bread remained the sales leader among all fastcasual chains, with 2010 sales nearly over $2.9 billion, a 4.3% increase from 2009. Its U.S. units increased 5.5% to 1,376. Chipotle Mexican Grill held onto the No. 2 spot, growing sales 20.7% to $1.8 billion, and units 13.5% to 1,084 locations. The Technomic report highlighted several trends emerging within the fast-casual segment. For example, the Mexican menu category overtook bakery cafe/bagel restaurants as the most prevalent type of fast-casual restaurant in the Top 100 last year. Bakery cafes did, however, continue to lead all menu categories in terms of total U.S. system-wide sales in 2010, driven primarily by the largest player, Panera Bread. The fastest growing menu categories for the top 100 fast-casual chains were “better burger” outlets, which were up 16.1%, Asian/noodle (up 10.1%), and Mexican (up 9%). Local, regional claims appearing on more menus CHICAGO — The incidence of the term “local” on restaurant menus has increased 13% during the past year, according to Mintel International Ltd., and the research firm sees a push toward indigenous ingredients increasing, which may take the local trend a step further. “This extends the idea beyond geography to include other important attributes such as ‘seasonal,’ ‘traditional,’ and ‘authentic,’ especially as it relates to global cuisines,” said Kathy Hayden, food service analyst at Mintel. “Serving the best of the season communicates freshness and a ‘get-itnow’ urgency. Perhaps most importantly, indigenous ingredients help the migration away from overly processed food toward more recognizable and simpler ingredients sourced closer to home.” The Mintel research also showed that regional dishes such as Maine lobster or New Orleans po’boy sandwiches are gaining in popularity. Specifically, the research firm noted Southern-style collard greens and black-eyed peas are showing up more frequently on menus. Food service operators are responding to the regional trend, with companies like Burgerville, a Vancouver, Wash.-based quick-service restaurant chain, promoting that its products are made with meats, cheeses and vegetables sourced from Oregon and Washington. Mintel also cited the fried chicken chain Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen as an example of a company offering menu items with a regional flair. 7I CULINOLOGY I MAY/JUNE 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Culinology - May/June 2011

Culinology - May/June 2011
WELCOME - RCA welcomes Sosland Publishing Co. as new CULINOLOGY ® magazine publisher
Fast-casual segment sets the restaurant sales pace
Local, regional claims appearing on more menus
GLUTEN FREE - Specialized menu management
CALORIES - Counting calories
BEEF FLAVOR - Savory infl uence
COST MANAGEMENT - Menu cost management
2011 SHOW SHOTS - RCA Annual Conference & Culinology Expo
N.R.A. WINNERS - ‘And the winners are …’

Culinology - May/June 2011