Passing higher costs to consumers looks to be a sure thing in 2011, according to the NRN a.m. 2011 Restaurant Operator Survey, even as restaurant operators continue to say value pricing will be the most important part of their menu strategies.
More than 130 subscribers to NRN a.m. — the daily e-newsletter from Nation’s Restaurant News — took an online survey last month, helping to shed light on what the industry is expecting in the year ahead.
The majority of respondents said they expect improved sales and profit, while unit growth will remain questionable for many. The industry’s top challenges, including commodity costs, as well as possible benefits, like increased consumer spending, were also covered in the survey.
NRN is exploring the survey results in a series of articles this week.
• See Part I, covering industry expectations for the year’s biggest challenges and possible benefits.
• See Part II covering sales, profit and unit growth expectations.
Below is a deeper look at menu price predictions and menu trends. Friday, NRN will look at where restaurateurs plan to reinvest capital, place marketing resources and tackle workforce numbers.
Of the 132 participants, nearly 60 percent of respondents said they plan to increase menu prices at their restaurants in 2011. About 35 percent will keep menu prices about the same as they were in 2010, and 5.3 percent plan to reduce menu prices.
Beyond pricing, participants evaluated current menu trends and selected the most important aspect of their menus. Nearly 39 percent of the respondents said value pricing was the biggest priority out of the five choices. Twenty-four percent said improved food quality would drive their decision making. About 15 percent selected the use of local or seasonal items; 12 percent bold or spicy flavors and 10 percent said low food-cost items would be the most important menu driver.
Contact Sarah Lockyer at [email protected].