Meeting the strong demand for healthy but exciting eating is the biggest challenge facing restaurateurs over the next decade, according to a new report.
Eating Out - Ten Year Trends by market analyst Mintel, revealed exclusively in Caterer, claims operators will need to grapple with the demands of an increasing army of consumers who are concerned about their health or weight, but still want a treat when they eat out.
To do this, restaurants will need to dispel negative perceptions by making wholesome dishes tasty and inviting. Mintel suggests this can best be achieved by devising new, healthy dishes rather than simply cutting fat and salt levels (see panel below).
With an explosion in more casual, lower-cost restaurants over the past decade, 96% of the population now dine out, compared with 93% in 1995.
This growth has been partly driven by increasingly hectic lifestyles, and Mintel believes restaurants can profit by promoting meals that are considered too time-consuming to make at home or that use ingredients not widely available in supermarkets.
However, popularity comes at a price, as this more knowledgeable and demanding customer base "now wants better-quality, fresher ingredients but at the same cost".
Diners' increased appetite for new experiences can be encouraged, Mintel says, by expanding the restaurant's alcohol range, hosting themed nights, and selling more wines by the glass to encourage the uptake of new - and pricier - varieties.
Many of these new trends will be dictated by the expanding "grey market" of affluent, well-travelled baby-boomers who tend to eat out more frequently and more healthily than other diners. They will be looking for lighter meals and more all-day eating options.
Pubs remain the most popular destination for diners, accounting for 23% of the market.
\* Consumers spent an estimated £27.6b on eating out in 2005, 67% more than the £16.5b spent in 1995. Mintel predicts that expenditure over the next five years will grow by 28% to £35b.
UK eating-out market
|Value||Market Share||Value||Market Share||Value||Market Share|
\* includes cafés, coffee shops and other retail outlets
Source: Eating Out - Ten Year Trends, Mintel Leisure Intelligence
By Angela Frewin