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CHICAGO -- Consumers are managing restaurant checks by cutting back on beverages and ordering only food at main meals. However, restaurant chains are now focusing on driving beverage-only occasions.
According to The NPD Group, restaurant chains are driving incremental beverage-only occasions during other times of the day with the introduction of new beverages and beverage marketing efforts. In June 2012, the total restaurant visits were flat compared to the 2-percent decline in visits that included both food and beverage, reports NPD's CREST foodservice market research.
"Consumers are responding to new beverage introductions and the aggressive promotion of beverages, and as a result beverage-only has become a significant growth opportunity for the foodservice industry," said Kyle Olund, director, foodservice product development at NPD. "There is, however, a complexity to beverage-only foodservice occasions and it's important for foodservice operators and manufacturers to have a full understanding of the foodservice beverage landscape in order to capitalize on this growing and changing market."
Consumers ordering beverages without food represent an increasing percentage of restaurant traffic, according to NPD's Expanded Beverage Service, which tracks all beverage foodservice occasions. The new foodservice beverage research finds that beverage-only foodservice occasions steadily increase between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and then gradually taper off throughout the late afternoon and evening hours. Shakes, smoothies, slushy drinks, coffee, and bottled water are among the beverages more likely to be consumed at a restaurant occasion that doesn't include food.