CHICAGO -- This past year, the U.S. foodservice industry recovered the visits it lost during the Great Recession, and will end the year with a total traffic volume at 61 billion, visits up 1% and a consumer spending gain of 3% compared with the same time last year, according to Chicago-based NPD Group.
Among the drivers behind the foodservice growth is the continuing strength of breakfast foods, quick-service restaurant traffic growth and menu innovation, and all things bacon, barbecue and steak.
NPD restaurant industry analyst Bonnie Riggs looked back at several of the winning growth drivers in the foodservice market in 2015:
Morning Still Hot
Breakfast is still the fastest-growing foodservice daypart and accelerating. All-day breakfast at McDonalds' and burgers for breakfast at Burger King both seemed to satisfy consumers' needs.
Quick Service Restaurants
Quick service restaurants were the strongest performing segment, representing 79% of all foodservice visits. The QSR fast casual category increased visits by 8% and retail convenience store foodservice traffic grew by 2%. These two top-growing QSR categories are on opposite ends of the price spectrum, but both are meeting consumers' needs for quality, convenience and value. Total growth for the QSR segment was 1%.
Older adults drove most of the industry traffic growth and will continue to in the future.
Everything BBQ, bacon and steak with compelling offerings from places like Arby's, Carl's Jr., Wendy's, Taco Bell and Applebee's.
Hot & Spicy
Sriracha, ghost peppers and jalapeño kicked up menus and consumer satisfaction. Hot and spicy appeals the most to millennials and Gen Z.
As for the future, NPD Group forecasts foodservice total traffic to grow by a modest 1% in 2016.
"It has been a long, slow recovery but the foodservice industry has recovered nearly all of the steep traffic losses incurred after the recession began in 2008," Riggs said. "With continued focus on consumers' ever changing wants and needs, the industry can alter the current forecast of minimal growth. After all, forecasts are not cast in stone; they are to be used as a guideline and something to work against."