Fresh produce and local food demand will continue to ride a hot streak at U.S. restaurants through 2020.
Those are two findings in a new report called “National Restaurant Industry 2020,” composed of a panel of industry experts assembled by the Washington, D.C.-based National Restaurant Associations.
The NRA research report is available online for $35 for members and $70 for non-members.
The research report predicts that total restaurant industry sales will climb to $850 billion in 2020, up from $587 billion in 2010 and $379 billion in 2000. The report said the “healthy” eating trend will continue to grow in coming years.
The panel reported that some of the most likely developments in food and menus by 2020 include an greater emphasis on product quality and fresh food, with fresh produce options expected to be become more plentiful. According to the panel, local sourcing of food will increase, benefitting from a more productive and integrated supply chain.
“Restaurant operators who are already dishing up locally grown food are ahead of the curve, as the panel believes that the emphasis on fresh ingredients will be more prevalent in the years ahead,” according to the association.
In the health and nutrition category, the research report said healthy eating trends will continue to grow, particularly on childrens’ menus. Restaurants will become more creative in putting healthy items on the menu, according to the report.
“Chefs will collaborate with culinary schools and suppliers to increase the availability and accessibility of dishes that may not have been available a decade ago,” according to the report.
The panel predicts a greater emphasis on quick reference codes, computer tablets, kiosks and video menu boards that can give consumers instant nutrition information.
“Social media, e-mail and text messages will allow operators to better customize marketing to individuals, offering specials coupons that will appeal to that person’s particular tastes and interests,” according to the report.
On the topic of product traceability, the panel predicts improvement in technology in food tracing by 2020 and said that the industry will develop a more comprehensive and planned response to safety/security incidents.
The panel said that social responsibility will loom larger by 2020, with water conservation at restaurants expected to be an area of increased focus.
Diversity of consumers will increase by 2020, and the panel said that Hispanics will account of about 19% of the population, up from a share of 16.4% in 2010. Older Americans will show a strong growth in numbers by 2010, with the age group of 65 and older Americans climbing 38% compared with 2010. In contrast, the age group of 18 to 24 year old Americans will decline by 2.4% in 2010 compared with 2010, according to the report.