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Citing continued concern over job losses, underemployment, and continued consumer frugality in away-from-home dining, foodservice consulting firm Technomic has revised its 2010 U.S. foodservice forecast downward to -1.6 percent, an 0.8 percent decrease from its original estimate.
The Chicago-based consultancy, however, acknowledged in comments first delivered at its Foodservice Planning Program meeting, that some segments, most notably supermarket foodservice, education, and healthcare, will outperform the industry at large.
While the forecast remained unchanged for most foodservice segments, weaker than anticipated sales in major areas including fast food, business dining, and vending segments prompted the downward adjustment for the overall industry.
All segments will continue to contend with a foodservice environment that will remain challenging throughout the remainder of the year. “Given current dynamics, we don’t see the industry returning to the same levels it previously enjoyed until 2011 or even early 2012,” said David Henkes, Technomic VP. “With demand remaining weak and bundled deals and promotions driving down check averages, top line sales growth among foodservice operators won’t bounce back quickly.”
Meanwhile, the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) comprehensive index of restaurant activity found that operators gained confidence about future economic and business conditions. As a result of softening sales and traffic results in January, however, the NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) backed off slightly from December’s 22-month high.
“Although the current situation indicators remained soft in January, the Expectations Index rose above 100 for the first time in nine months,” said Hudson Riehle, SVP of NRA’s research and knowledge group. “Restaurant operators are relatively optimistic about improving sales growth and economic conditions in the months ahead, and their capital spending plans rose to the highest level in five months.”