CHICAGO — Citing a larger-than-expected slowdown in discretionary consumer spending, foodservice consultancy Technomic Inc. revised its 2008 U.S. foodservice industry growth forecast downward from 5.1% to 3.6%.
Business and industry is the only category Technomic projected to see a decline in sales, with an estimated 5% dip in 2008. Among the two largest segments of the industry, restaurants and bars are still expected to perform slightly better than other “beyond restaurants” segments, at 3.8% and 3.1%, respectively.
In comments delivered to clients at its Foodservice Planning Program meeting, Technomic indicated that while the industry has enjoyed sustained growth up until now, weaker performance is expected in 2008. Factoring in a 4% rate of inflation, real spending will likely be down this year. “Because the restaurant industry often serves as a leading economic indicator, our opinion is that the U.S. has most likely entered a recession, or is headed for one,” added Ron Paul, president of Technomic.
The National Restaurant Association projected in its recently released “2008 Restaurant Industry Forecast” that foodservice sales in the United States will slow in 2008 to a modest 4.4%, or 0.9% adjusted for inflation. Despite the slowdown, however, the association said the industry is on track to achieve its 17th year of consecutive growth in 2008, with $558 billion in sales, up from $536.9 billion in 2007.