News | May 25, 1999

NRA Predicts $590 billion industry by 2010 as Take-Out Sales Soar

In the year 2010, consumers will spend more than 53% of every food dollar on meals, snacks and beverages purchased away from home, up from 44% today and 25% in 1955, the National Restaurant Association predicted today.

"Without question, the restaurant of the future will be busier, more high-tech and do a brisker business in takeout and delivery than restaurants today," said Hudson Riehle, NRA's senior director for research, at a press briefing held at the National Restaurant Association's 80th annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.

NRA information follows: Industry sales will exceed $590 billion by 2010, Riehle predicted, up from $354 billion in 1999 and $43 billion in 1970. In addition, the industry in that year will be dominated by the following trends:
•Increased competition with continuing growth
•Increased training and development of its work force
•Technology being more effectively used to control costs and enhance management efficiency
•Increased levels of service and food quality, driven by state-of-the-art improvements in food storage, packaging, biotechnology and preparation methods
•A more diverse work force, thanks to the increasing diversity in the nation's population
•A greater degree of individual customization of menu items

Takeout and delivery will capture a greater portion of total industry sales, as the nation's population continues to be characterized by two-income families.

"Separate sections of the restaurant will be dedicated solely to takeout and delivery," Riehle said. Also, Riehle predicted greater penetration of restaurant-prepared meals into homes, including restaurant servers who will serve you and light the candles on your table. "People who want to entertain at home will be able to have the restaurant prepare and serve the meal for them there," he said. "The bar has been raised in terms of the consumer's taste and flavor expectations," he noted, adding that consumers are already "much more educated about flavor and taste sensations they can get at restaurants, which they can't duplicate at home."

Regionalized menus, high-quality bakery products and "microethnicity" will fluorish in restaurant menus in the future, he said. "While competition will remain strong, this will also give the industry tremendous vitality."