Breakfast still presents a major opportunity for business growth, particularly to quick service restaurant operators - but only if they act swiftly.
That's the message from new analysis of the foodservice industry by the NPD Group, which shows how three key sectors trends have performed over the past three months and over a year as a whole.
The quarterly report showed that breakfast saw 2.2% growth for the year to September 2013. NPD said it still represented a "real opportunity" for the quick service restaurant sector, but that "operators need to act quickly before this market matures".
Meanwhile the report also found that:
- This year's good summer helped the total out of home (OOH) industry to see a return to traffic growth in Q3 2013 of +2% versus the same period last year
- To year end September 2013 most major channels posted declining visits. This was driven by the independent chains that make up almost half of the UK's market. Branded pubs and restaurants are largely in growth, benefitting from the ability to respond to changing consumer demands
- Average individual spend has increased across some channels: Quick Service Restaurants (QSR), Travel & Leisure, College/University Canteen
- Visit declines in the sector can be attributed to fewer parties with children, off-premises occasions, weekday occasions and non-deal/promotion, snacking and young adults (25-49). However NPD said that the Q4 2013 data could see an improvement if consumer behaviour catches up with the sense improved consumer optimism.
Meanwhile, NPD also noted that consumers were making more informed and considered meal and snack choices, in some cases swapping routine weekday visits in favour of shared family and friend oriented weekend "experiences". Snacking was the major victim, dropping -1.5% to the year end September 2013.
And in pubs, meal occasions on deals grew +4.3% to year end September 2013, and overall pub deal usage rates of 29.6% are above the industry average (26%). A larger number of orders than ever in pubs are now non-alcoholic, with beer sales the biggest loser. Incident rates are now at 39%, with four fewer drinks consumed per 100 visitors.
Cyril Lavenant, director of Foodservice UK for the NPD Group, said: "There is no one trend driving the UK foodservice market at the moment. Instead it is a complex picture by day part, consumer segment and category. Operators really do need to understand how consumers are behaving across the sector and how that is changing quarter by quarter if they are to tap into the growth areas, and address those that are static or in decline.
"There certainly are opportunities. The increase in average individual spend is a positive sign and operators need to give people the chance to trade-up, while not forgetting to maintain value on routine visits. Breakfast continues to be a bright spot with real opportunities, particularly for the QSR channel, to maximise it next year. Those providers who offer an experience for social occasions are well placed for success. However, the industry really needs to focus on reinvigorating core lunch and dinner day parts if there is to be sustained growth."