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CHICAGO -- A new report adds further proof to the increased importance beverages have on foodservice rings. Specifically, according to Technomic, seven out of 10 consumers (71 percent) now purchase beverages away from home twice a week or more often, up from 66 percent in 2010. As the economy stabilizes from the recession, restaurants and retail foodservice locations are well-positioned to boost beverage sales.
Beverages act as a high-margin add-on that can help increase check averages for operators and also increase the overall dining experience for consumers by providing an added element of flavor to a meal, the Chicago-based research firm explained.
Specialty coffees, specialty teas and smoothies exhibited growth at Top 500 limited-service restaurants. Specialty coffee increased by 10 percent on limited-service menus over the past two years, emerging as one of the segment's leaders. With the rise of sweet tea, specialty tea listings nearly doubled on menus. Smoothies, including fruit smoothies, grew by 8.5 percent, while the protein-enhanced varieties jumped by 123 percent, proving that smoothies have become a menu mainstay, Technomic said.
"Today's foodservice consumers continue to base dining decisions on their perception of value," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president. "Innovative operators are creating value by crafting new and unique beverages including specialty lemonades, handmade sodas and 'mocktails' that are uniquely flavorful, fresh and a better-for-you option."
With nearly a third (29 percent) of consumers saying they like to try new and unique beverages, operators can build their credibility and bottom line by leveraging trending flavors with more creative beverage offerings, the company added.
Other findings in Technomic's Beverage Consumer Trend Report include:
- The number of menu items offered at leading coffee cafes has increased by 18 percent over the past two years, as non-beverage menu development becomes a major focus in this category.
- Forty-nine percent of women aged 18 to 24, and 41 percent of all consumers, agree that their beverage preferences tend to change depending on the season/time of the year.
- Two-thirds of consumers said they drank regular hot coffee (68 percent) and regular soft drinks (66 percent) at least once in the past month. Roughly half of consumers said they purchased regular hot coffee (46 percent) and regular soft drinks (53 percent) from foodservice at least once in the last month.
- New and unique beverages are a strong traffic driver for young consumers; 47 percent of consumers aged 18 to 24, compared to 29 percent of consumers overall, said they'd like to try new and unique beverages offered at restaurants.