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Power Players Restaurants (2013)

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The restaurant sector has not been immune to the pressures felt by the wider retail industry over the past five years. “Foodservice is still facing headwinds that are tempering consumers’ willingness to eat out,” says Joe Pawlak, vice president at Technomic. That may be why about four of every five consumers who patronize restaurants eat at a fast food joint, according to NPD Group’s Consumer Reports on Eating Share Trends (CREST) research.

This creates the challenge to keep innovating without losing loyal customers. McDonald’s, for instance, introduced the Angus Burger in 2009 as a nod to the growing popularity of “designer” burger chains like In-N-Out and Five Guys. The concept may have been well-timed, but popular “dollar menu” value offerings precluded the premium-priced Angus burgers from being runaway hits. McDonald’s replaced the third-pound burgers with new iterations of Quarter Pounders.

Technomic has slightly cut back on estimates for industry growth this year, from a forecast of 3.9 percent last January to the current 3.8 percent. Longer-term growth should rise to 4.1 percent through the end of next year, it advises.