In a year where unemployment remained mostly stagnant and economic growth continued to move at a snail’s pace, there is some good news for restaurateurs about consumer spending habits. In 2012 food dishes with protein, particularly anything with meat or seafood were ordered at a higher growth rate than dishes without protein. Restaurant owners should rejoice because protein dishes tend to be 35% more expensive than non-protein dishes and are often paired with alcoholic beverages, demonstrating that customers are on average spending more when they go out to eat.
Information was gathered by GuestMetrics, with a database of POS transactions accounting to over $8 billion in sales and over 250 million dollars worth of checks from restaurants and bars throughout the United States. Although the split between protein and non-protein dishes is near equal, dishes with protein grew at a 2.1 percent rate over the last year, while dishes without protein grew at a sluggish 0.3 percent rate.
Among the types of meat that customers ordered, beef showed a huge gain while seafood dishes showed a slight decline. However, given the higher cost of seafood this trend makes sense given the economic pressure most Americans are under. Ribeye steaks, filet steaks and burgers in particular showed the most growth in 2012.
Among seafood dishes, shrimp, bass, clams and tuna decreased in consumption the most. However some of these losses were offset by an increase in oyster, salmon, grouper and trout orders. Most of these trends in seafood simply reflect changes in demand. Oysters in particular have grown more popular from inclusion in pop culture, while bass may have suffered because of environmental and health concerns. Ultimately, the growth of protein-rich dishes can only help restaurant growth and act as a guide for restaurateurs to update their menus appropriately.
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