Foodservice faces pressure from home-cooked meals - The Packer

Foodservice faces pressure from home-cooked meals

04/18/2014 09:45:00 AM
Tim York

Tim York, Markon CooperativeTim York, Markon CooperativeSince moving to the White House in 2009, first lady Michelle Obama has made ending childhood obesity her top priority with her Let’s Move campaign.

While focused on increasing kids’ physical activity, improving school lunches, and exhorting food manufacturers to increase the nutritional value of their food, the campaign also takes aim at another target — eating outside the home.

“Research clearly shows that home-cooking is one of the single most impactful ways for families to improve their health,” the first lady said at a recent conference of the Partnership for Healthier America (PHA), an organization devoted to working with the private sector to solve the childhood obesity crisis.

The conference also included powerful speakers such as former Senator Bill Frist; Janet Murguia, president of La Raza; chef Sam Kass from Let’s Move; Michael Jacobsen of the Center for Science in the Public Interest; and retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who shared startling statistics about the difficulty of finding young people fit enough to qualify for military service.

Centerplate with Tim YorkDescribing home-cooked meals as lower in fat, sodium, cholesterol and calories than restaurant meals — and more cost-effective — Obama’s announcement was the first part of a multifaceted initiative to get families and children back into their kitchens.

As I shared in a recent column, a 2012 study in the journal Childhood Obesity found that in two-thirds of the 50 largest chain restaurants, none of the kids’ meals met nutritional standards for calories, salt, sugar and fats.

The latest foray from “Let’s Move” ramps up pressure on the industry, which has already felt the impact of changing consumer wants and needs.

In 2008, 51% of the food dollar was spent in foodservice, according to Bill Hale of The Hale Group.

He also reports that today, that number is 47%. Of the $1.2 trillion U.S. consumers spend on food annually, that is a $45 billion shift away from foodservice.

Over the past 12 months, fast food sales numbers are flat, fast-casual is up 8%; casual dining is down 1% and fine dining is up 6%.

What do these numbers tell us? Consumers are cash-strapped and time-crunched. Fast-casual is succeeding because of the perception of healthier food and rapid service. It has found the sweet spot.

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