It’s one thing to say that the food and beverage industry has continued to grow but it’s another to back it up with data. Intermedia have released their annual market research report exploring the spend, behaviour and preference of the Australian population when it comes to eating out. With the average Australian household spending around $4900 a year on eating out, understanding where the people are spending and what they are enjoying is key to creating food and beverage precincts or single businesses that thrive this year and into the future.
In 2017, Australians had 85,000 options when it came to choosing a place to eat out making the food and beverage industry big business as well a competitive one. Total revenue clocked $45 billion in the last year with fast food outlets taking the biggest slice of the revenue pie bringing in just over $6.5 billion quickly followed by our restaurants which brought in over $4.5 billion. To put things into perspective, coal exports in Australia generated $34.3 billion so it is safe to say that the food and beverage industry is a thriving part of Australian economy. This is powerful news for the developers, food and beverage business owners, retail centres and other customer-centric precincts who are putting food and hospitality concepts at the centre of their business strategies.
We mentioned that Australians are loving the fast lane when it comes to food but despite fast food outlets attracting the most amount of spend, we are showing less support for the traditional fast food majors such as Subway, McDonald’s, KFC and Hungry Jacks. Instead, there has been a greater interest taken in concepts that can offer healthy alternatives in a fast food environments or customers are opting for healthier cuisines such as Japanese or seafood. In fact, popularity for McDonald’s has declined by 19.5% in the last year whereas healthy eating has increased by 14.7% and operators are noticing this with business reporting that they are experiencing this growth in interest for menus with fresh, wholesome and nutritious food options.
Regardless of the success of the food and beverage sector, the report also noted that there is increasing pressure on operators to maintain financial stability as running a food and beverage business is only getting more expensive. Wages appeared to be the biggest hit to profitability and staffing quality still remains a major issue in the industry. With the food and beverage experience being largely reliant on the human touch, great staff need to be at the forefront of the business however this is becoming more difficult to achieve and more expensive to maintain. Training and customer service skill building is going to be paramount to standing out from the crowd this year as business is competitive and it takes a slight point of difference that customers benefit from to win customer spend.
When it comes to achieving long term success, marketing is a key tool that needs to be utilised. Customers are reporting that they are relying on social media channels, websites and well appointed signage to get to know a food outlet and without these, food operators are doing themselves a disservice. Customers are choosing to book online, read online reviews and visually assess the menu more than ever so if they can’t do this for your outlet then there is a chance they won’t choose to spend with you. Social media is also the new word of mouth so if you’re not doing it already, let your business be shareable through photos, tagging and customer reviews.
So whilst 2017’s Eating Out report has revealed nothing overly groundbreaking about the way in which Australians are enjoying eating out, it has reinforced the path the food and beverage industry is going down and what areas will see growth in as well as the areas that need to transform to ensure continuing business success.
Credits - cover image of Butcher's Diner, Melbourne by Griffin Simm via The Urban List