Acosta, a global integrated sales and marketing services provider in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, released its sixth edition of The Why? Behind the Dine, a research report providing foodservice-specific insight bolstered by the expertise of its CORE Foodservice division.
Acosta's findings show that while most consumers (54 percent) are dining out less often due to inflation, about one-third are choosing to trade down rather than trade out, opting for less expensive restaurant and meal options to counter rising prices.
"COVID-19 hit the foodservice industry hard," says Travis King, president of CORE Foodservice. "While recovery remains on track for 2024, consumers are feeling the pinch of inflation and reacting accordingly. To continue participating in dining out activities, many are sharpening their focus on costs."
While just over 50 percent of consumers consider food quality the top priority when eating out, meal price has grown in importance, particularly among fast casual diners. When it comes to choosing a restaurant, cost is now the second most significant factor for fast casual diners surveyed by Acosta –– a notable shift from menu variety in August 2021.
"Consumer priorities are evolving, but interest in dining out remains stronger than expected during an inflationary period," adds King. "This is largely due to pent up demand resulting from COVID-19 and an increased reliance on foodservice as employees return to the office. But inflation's tipping point is yet to come. As financial strain worsens, quality service is becoming increasingly important. Providing a valuable dining experience will be critical to incentivize cost-wary consumers in the coming months."