—U.S. restaurant customer visits were flat, and broadline foodservice increased case shipments by 3% last year 

Chicago, January 31, 2023 —The U.S. foodservice industry has had a perfect storm of challenges over the past few years, the lingering pandemic, labor shortage, inflation, higher operational costs, and an increasing number of meals eaten at home. Still, pockets of growth indicate calmer seas ahead. U.S. commercial foodservice customer traffic to restaurants and other foodservice outlets ended 2022 flat compared to a year ago. Consumer spending at foodservice outlets was up 4% due to higher prices, reports The NPD Group*.  

Retail foodservice, specifically convenience store foodservice traffic, was a growth area for the industry. Convenience store visits for prepared beverages and foods were up 2% last year versus the year before. Restaurant traffic, representing most of all foodservice visits, was down 1% in the 12 months ending December versus a year ago, with most of the visit losses from full service restaurants. Visits to quick service restaurants, representing 82% of total restaurant traffic, were flat last year versus the prior year.    

Morning meal has been a bright spot for foodservice over the past two years, and restaurants and retail foodservice have contributed to the growth. The breakfast and A.M. snack period traffic to restaurants and retail foodservice outlets increased by 2% in 2022, over a double-digit gain in 2021. Restaurant morning meal visits were up 2% in the 12 months ending December compared to the prior year’s double-digit increase. Traffic at the retail foodservice morning meal, most of which were to convenience stores, was up 4% last year, over a 3% gain in 2021. 

The growth of technology-enabled ordering is evident in the popularity of digital ordering for carry-out. Digital ordering for carry-out has continued to grow since the height of the pandemic. Over the past three years, total restaurant digital orders for carry-out increased by 115%, and in the 12 months ending December, increased by 4% compared to the year before. Quick service digital orders for carry-out grew by 9% in 2022 versus the prior year and have increased by 108% over the last three years.  

Broadline foodservice distributors increased case shipments to commercial and non-commercial foodservice outlets by 3%, and dollars shipped increased by 17% in the 12 months ending December compared to a year ago. Commercial case shipments to restaurants and convenience stores were flat, and dollars shipped were up 13% compared to the year prior. Non-commercial broadline case shipments increased by 11% last year compared to 2021, with business & industry, education, lodging and casinos, and recreation being growth areas.    

“Looking forward to 2023, we anticipate improvements in supply chain disruptions, inflation deceleration, and increased consumer use of foodservice,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “And while we expect challenges in 2023, we believe the U.S. foodservice industry will continue down the path of recovery this year, although growth will be modest.”   

*The NPD Group recently merged with Information Resources, Inc. (IRI®) to create a leading global technology, analytics, and data provider. 

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