Health and wellness may be top-of-mind trends in consumer dining, but a new study by foodservice consultants Technomic finds that there has not been a significant migration away from fried foods. According to the new Future of Fried Foods Study, the billions of fried food servings ordered each year by Americans are driven by value, craveability and broad appeal. Technomic’s latest consumer survey shows that the top consumer associations with fried foods include:

  • 89% – “tasty”
  • 86% – “satisfying”
  • 83% – “filling”
  • 80% – “something I crave”
  • 77% – “comforting”
  • 71% – “good value”

Despite the fact that more than half of the consumers in Technomic’s survey describe themselves as “Fried Food Curtailers” or “Fried Food Avoiders,” the study predicts that, over the next three years, the growth rate of fried foods will decline, but will not differ substantially from that of the foodservice industry as a whole.

Other findings from the study that indicate fried foods will hold their own include:

  • Impulse is a major driver of fried food sales. About one in five consumers (21 percent) say that their purchases of fried food at restaurants are usually made on impulse.
  • About one-third of respondents (32 percent) like to order fried foods at restaurants because they do not normally prepare them at home.

“We don’t foresee a large drop in fried food sales because they are widely available and are frequently bundled with value meal purchases.” says Bob Goldin, executive vice president at Technomic. “Fried foods are offered at a reasonable price point that has strong appeal across multiple consumer groups. The crispy texture and craveable flavor is something that they cannot duplicate at home.”

The Future of Fried Foods Study provides in-depth analysis of over 1,500 interviews with U.S. consumers and looks at data by segment based on restaurant usage, demographics, and attitudes toward fried food. Menu trend analysis for the 250 largest full-service chain restaurants, limited-service chains, and emerging chains was based on Technomic’s proprietary MenuMonitor database and primary and secondary industry data. A “Trends to Watch” section highlights trend-setting menu items from large chains, small emerging chains, and independent restaurants and provides analysis on where these trends may lead. A supplemental report using in-depth interviews with chain and independent operators offers volumetric assessments of the fried foods category, quantifies the profitability of different fried food types, and explores the impact of volume changes.

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