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Food preference - Restaurants
Old 05-06-2019, 06:53 AM   #1
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Food preference - Restaurants

One of my sons works for a company that does consumer studies on foods.
Yesterday he casually tossed out a two part concern that may or may not be related. We didn't get into it, except for pointing out these two issues.

1. The food business is rapidly turning away from meat.
2. Restaurants are having serious financial strains.

Since I hadn't heard of either of these concerns, I thought to toss it out as a possible subject for discussion. I haven't seen this in the news, except for the possible effect of the move to vegetarianism.

Thoughts?
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Old 05-06-2019, 06:58 AM   #2
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An aging population eats less meat, young people think it is neat to be veggies, and restaurants may make more hay on Veggie dishes. problem solved.
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:12 AM   #3
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If in fact "the food business" is, as you say, turning away from meat it is likely caused by consumers choosing to consume less animal products. In terms of individual health and that of the environment, raising fewer animals for human consumption is a good thing.

I'm venturing a guess that if restaurants are experiencing serious financial strains, the cause could be a very tight labor market. Unemployment is at a 50 year low and that typically means that businesses requiring a steady supply of entry level labor, like the hospitality industry, are finding slim picken's.
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:15 AM   #4
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I work in the F&B industry, within the Resort Industry. My thoughts are..

1) I wouldn't say "rapidily". I would say that there is a general movement away from Beef (not just meat). Two possible causes..
a) Beef Prices have increased dramatically over they past 2-3 years.
b) A shift in consumer preferences away from Beef. Veganism/Vegetarianism - are probably the leading dynamic. Why consumers are making that move is a whole other conversation.

2) Yes, there are a lot of financial strains on the Restaurant Business. Depending on the specific type of Restaurant (fine dining to fast food), there are a number of factors to varying degrees. Some are Personnel, some are Business, and some are Political. Having said that, what sector doesn't have these strains? Any business has to adapt & grow with the times.. if they want to be profitable.
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Old 05-06-2019, 10:53 AM   #5
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I have always heard that they make their money off of liquor, soft drinks and dessert.
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Old 05-06-2019, 11:04 AM   #6
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Just a side note on the food industry as regards long term planning. My son heads the technical department of one of the top food product evaluation departments in the nation. My original comment was overly simple, though the movement away from beef was one of the most recent and rapid changes to affect the food industry. The range of concerns go from food markets, to restaurants, to food provisions for the educational community, businesses, commercial kitchens and virtually every part of the industry from the raw product, to selective consumer rating analysis. All with the intent of being ahead of the curve.

Though the business has been in existence for decades, never has there been such an acceleration in the degree of interest and the speed of change.

From the initial raw product, to the processing facilities, to the packaging, advertising, storage, delivery and transportation, stocking, sale and end user, the processes change and affect costs at all levels.

The trend, is much more involved than buying veggie burgers... every part of the chain will experience major overhauls and costs. What has historically been a relatively slow and steady process, is now being compressed. Thus the surge in planning and predictive studies.

After Health and Financial Services, Consumer Products is the third largest part of the US Economy. The food industry as a whole is a major part of those products.

https://rsmus.com/what-we-do/industr...usinesses.html

And along the way... the food industry utilizes blockchain in a way, that you didn't know about.
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Old 05-06-2019, 11:24 AM   #7
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New restaurants come and go all the time.
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Old 05-06-2019, 11:38 AM   #8
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Another self fulfilling prophecy coming.

So because over the past few years there have been printed articles about the health problems of eating beef everyday, and that cows are destroying the world by farting.

Consumers cut back on beef. -> even DW reminds me about less beef.

So the food industry see's this, and decreases beef, now as a consumer, I might want beef one night, but none is available, or the type is not what I like since they have so little, therefore I eat chicken (again).

The food industry sees the continuing drop in beef , and decreases production, and the cycle continues until it's rare that people eat beef, like eating lobster.
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Old 05-06-2019, 11:47 AM   #9
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New restaurants come and go all the time.
+1

Very, very true.

Just because somebody is an amazing cook does not mean they are good at running a business.

FWIW, I am told we should seek out the best of the new young chefs in outlying areas, not the heart of the big city. These young chefs cannot afford the rent and overhead of being in the center of Megalopolis, so they rent a small storefront in a suburban or rural area at 1/2 the cost, and cook up a storm.
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Old 05-06-2019, 11:54 AM   #10
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When I go to a restaurant, I don't generally order a steak, or a burger (I can fix fantastic ones at home on the grill). I do order seafood/fish, and chicken/pork/veal meals usually with noodles/potatoes. I have also gotten away from french fries, and choose onion rings, or seasoned rice as a side.
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Old 05-06-2019, 12:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ckelly78z View Post
When I go to a restaurant, I don't generally order a steak, or a burger (I can fix fantastic ones at home on the grill). I do order seafood/fish, and chicken/pork/veal meals usually with noodles/potatoes. I have also gotten away from french fries, and choose onion rings, or seasoned rice as a side.
Us too to some extent. We try to avoid eating restaurant food that we can do as well or better (for way cheaper too), so we focus on seafood restaurants that do fish right.

We've actually upped our consumption of beef - mostly brisket on the smoker and steaks on the grill or suis vide. Same for pork - ribs on the smoker and sous vide pork chops and loin. Sous vide is always finished on the cast iron or on the grill.

But we eat mostly at home. The only time we really eat out is when we travel. Otherwise, we can afford the good stuff when we cook it ourselves, so do that.

As to the the next gen, over the holidays the two vegetarian college students in the extended family had given it up. One was having health problems on that diet and the other said it had just been a phase that she and her friends had outgrown. She's back to bacon and eggs for breakfast.

I'm sure other families are having other experiences.
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Old 05-06-2019, 12:22 PM   #12
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Agree that I can do the steak and potatoes/mushrooms/veg or hamburger and fixings better at home than I get at most restaurants. Travel time is better to home, ambiance varies.

The health benefits of eating/not eating beef (meat) are not truly known and the truth is that dietary advice to move to a low fat diet may turn out to be one of the great nutritional/medical/government health mistakes of the past century. JERF, in moderation.
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Old 05-06-2019, 12:42 PM   #13
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I remember a recent thread with comments about why people don't like to eat out. The reasons why were all over the place. We eat out so seldom that if we never ate out again, it wouldn't bother our local restaurants in the slightest.

I don't think meat issue is particularity germane .. these things always come and go. On a side note almost all the Tim Hortons in MN are closing this week because of a dispute between the main franchise buyers and Tim Hortons....we're taking 3 year old stores just locking the doors. Food is a rough business no matter if it's growing it or feeding it to people. Not for wimps.
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Old 05-06-2019, 01:15 PM   #14
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Probably no one is impacted by all these factors, but some people have changed their habits because of one or more.
  • Discretionary income has been slowly declining for decades, so discretionary expenses like restaurants are going to see a slow decline.
  • Beef has increased in cost more than most proteins, so beef is just less affordable, so beef has seen a slow decline.
  • Animal cruelty and the environmental impact of beef in particular are more well known now. The same with over fishing and subsequently issues with farm raised fish. That impacts some potential dining choices.
  • Eating healthy, vegetarian has (very) slowly become more popular, that's going to create more demand (at the expense of animal proteins) which yields more creative menu options for healthy or vegetarian eaters. Some will choose an interesting vegetarian option at $20 more often than a $50 ribeye these days. Where there used to be dedicated steak houses with few if any non beef menu items, don't they all offer a few other options these days?
  • Right or wrong, people seem to move faster these days, they're busier or think they are. Those folks are less likely to dine slow, that means restaurants are going to face more competition from food carts, good trucks, fast food, fast casual, etc.
  • Where diners had one dedicated server before, nowadays there's an order taker, runners and other assorted wait-staff that really don't have any idea what "their" diners are experiencing. Even in high end restaurants now you sometimes have runner come to a table with an armful of entrees asking "who had the salmon." That doesn't pass for restaurant service to some people.
  • A 15% tip used to be the norm. Now it's 18%, 20% even 25% in some markets. Go to downtown Chicago and you can add $40 for parking and up to 12% restaurant tax and dinner out gets pricey quick. Expense account diners may not care, but others do.
  • People can have food delivered directly from restaurants nowadays - though I don't have any idea what impact that's having on traditional restaurants.
  • The quality of groceries has improved dramatically, so you don't have to go to a restaurant to have foods prepared with great ingredients. Between Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Earth Fare and many smaller regional specialty food places, and even far better selection at chain grocery stores - you can now make anything you want at home if you live in a large or medium metro area. That used to be a lot harder.
  • Cooking is way more fashionable now. We have the Food Network, the Cooking Channel and cooking shows on many networks now because people are watching. It used to be Julia Child and then the Galloping Gourmet - and you couldn't get many of the ingredients they used then.
  • The home open kitchen has become a showplace in modern homes with restaurant grade appliance and equipment, granite/quartz/marble counters, stainless steel appliances, etc. A far cry from the small isolated kitchen with chipboard cabinets, formica counters, plain white appliances and cheap Revere Ware from generations ago.
And all the factors above working against traditional restaurants are going to force slimmer margins in an effort to maintain top line. Like any business, and most industries. [The health care industry is one of the few exceptions in the US today - they still get to increase prices almost as they please.]
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Old 05-06-2019, 01:20 PM   #15
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I have always heard that they make their money off of liquor, soft drinks and dessert.
Clark Howard called appetizers, alcohol and dessert the "Bermuda Triangle" of the restaurant menu because that's where they make the most.
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Old 05-06-2019, 01:38 PM   #16
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Maybe eating meat more at home or this article is not accurate?

"Americans’ meat consumption set to hit a record in 2018

https://www.seattletimes.com/busines...ecord-in-2018/

For all the buzz about pea protein and lab-grown burgers, Americans are set to eat more meat in 2018 than ever before.

To be precise, the average consumer will eat 222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), surpassing a record set in 2004. Meanwhile, domestic production will surpass 100 billion pounds for the first time, as livestock owners expand their herds on the back of cheap feed grain.Many Americans are actively shunning carbohydrates in favor of protein, though any health benefits may be outweighed by the sheer volume of meat, eggs and dairy being consumed. While the government recommends that adults eat 5 to 6.5 ounces of protein daily, the USDA forecasts the average person will down almost 10 ounces of meat and poultry each day in 2018.

It’s a sharp turnaround from 2007 through 2014, a time when per-capita meat and poultry demand slumped 9 percent as rising corn-based ethanol demand and a drought sent commodity prices sharply higher.

Even though cattle and hogs are now far cheaper than their 2014 peak, prices have staged a rebound. U.S. meat exports have soared as the global economy improves, outpacing the gains in domestic demand."
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:05 PM   #17
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Costco sells nice beef, there is plenty of it. I prefer to eat beef at home anyway as I have the setup to do nice steaks, roasts, smoking, whatever.

I don't go out to restaurants for beef. Restaurants for seafood if it's top notch. Ethnic, asian ethnic tends to use meat sparingly anyway. Mexican - well, they can use a lot of meat - pork, beef, chicken, shrimp.
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:07 AM   #18
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I love veggies, but will never give up my meat especially beef. And like others I seldom order a steak at a restaurant. I cook mine medium rare with nothing on it. I prefer to add a bit of Tony's when I eat it. With plenty of sautéed mushrooms and onions please.
At restaurants we usually order things that are too time consuming or difficult to make at home. For my typical comfort food, no one makes it better than me. My opinion but that's what makes me happy these days!
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Old 05-07-2019, 06:31 AM   #19
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1. The food business is rapidly turning away from meat.
Huh? Rapidly?

I know a few restaurants are experimenting, but I think what you have written is vastly overstated.

Quote:
2. Restaurants are having serious financial strains.
That's always been true and always will be.
Nothing new there.
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Old 05-07-2019, 07:47 AM   #20
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2. Restaurants are having serious financial strains.
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Originally Posted by joeea View Post
Huh? Rapidly?

I know a few restaurants are experimenting, but I think what you have written is vastly overstated.


That's always been true and always will be.
Nothing new there.
I was once told that the best way to make a million dollars in the restaurant industry is to start with three.
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