Consumers favour fast food over fine dining
5 November 2014
(c) 2014 Independent Newspapers Ireland Ltd
Aideen Sheehan IRELAND has become a fast food nation, with takeaways and pub grub far more popular than fine dining.
A new study by Bord Bia shows that fast food, takeaways and pubs dominate the €6.13bn Irish catering industry.
In fact, we spend €2.38bn or 38pc of our eating-out budget in “quick service” restaurants, and fast food is the fastest-growing sector as customers continue to watch their wallets and look for value options.
By contrast. just 11pc or €687m is spent in full-service restaurants, a Bord Bia conference in Dublin on the food service sector heard yesterday.
And though the decline of Irish pubs has been much lamented, they’re now very popular places to eat, accounting for over €1.5bn or a quarter of all our spending on food away from the home. Many pubs have begun changing their food options to attract diners, by offering more extensive menus and pairing food with wines and other drinks, said Bord Bia specialist Maureen Gahan.
Last week, 34 Irish pubs won accolades in a new Michelin guide for the quality of their food.
Meanwhile, we spend €390m on food in hotels, €283m in workplace canteens and €345m in coffee shops, Growth Coffee has remained an affordable luxury throughout the recession and it attracts a lot of customers in through the door, meaning cafes can boost revenue if they offer attractive food options, said Ms Gahan.
There are now around 10,000 outlets around the country for eating out of the home and the food-service sector has seen moderate growth in 2014 “with a positive outlook expected over the next few years,” she said.
This comes after a period of sharp decline during the recession, and is helped by 10pc growth in tourist numbers.
Bord Bia projected that spending on eating out will rise to €6.5bn by 2017.
The decision to keep the lower 9pc VAT rate in the hospitality sector will help, said Ms Gahan.
The expansion of foreign chains such as Subway, Caffe Nero and JD Wetherspoon would also give opportunities for Irish suppliers.
When it came to fast food there was a growing move towards using mobile technology and having “snackable” menu options, small portions and portable food, while at the fancier end, “food theatre” is also of growing importance as chefs show off their skills in front-ofhouse exhibition cooking. Meanwhile, “fresh is the new healthy” when it comes to international dining-out trends, said David Henkes of Technomic, a US-based market research company.
Instead of focusing on what they can’t have by opting for low-calorie, low-fat foods, consumers are instead choosing fresh, natural, nutritious foods.