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Recession sparks changes in US dining

22 May 2009
Recession sparks changes in US dining

Dining trends in the US are changing as a result of the financial downturn and restaurants are responding by putting on a variety of special deals, it has emerged.

Starters served as main courses and shared platters, take out meals for free and even courses for the dog are among the promotions being served up by Stateside foodservice operators, according to foodservice consultancy Horizon's managing director Peter Backman.

"American consumers seem to be choosing more modest meals out in response to the recession, and perhaps also in a bid to eat more healthily," said Backman, who attended the National Restaurant Association Hotel-Motel show in Chicago this week.

"Operators are moving their appetisers to become main courses, without changing the price, advertising ‘pay less for the same great food'. Restaurant chain Applebee's now offers what was an appetiser of three mini-burgers as a main."

Backman continued: "The 80-strong Daphne's Greek café chain has recently reduced the price of a popular soup from $3.19 to $1 when ordered with a main course."

The managing director also said there was evidence that the type of food being ordered by American consumers is beginning to change. In its own survey, released at the show, the NRA quizzed 1,600 American chefs on the latest hot trends.

Smaller, shared portions such as bite-sized mini-desserts, small plates of starters such as tapas, dim sum or mezze, mini-burger and plates of combo-salads were found to have grown in popularity.

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By Helen Gilbert

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