Beverages increase check averages

Seven out of ten consumers (71%) now purchase beverages away from home twice a week or more often, up from 66% in 2010. As the economy stabilizes from the recession, restaurants and retail foodservice locations are well-positioned to boost beverage sales. Beverages act as a high-margin add-on that can help increase check averages for operators and also increase the overall dining experience for consumers by providing an added element of flavor to a meal.

Specialty coffees, specialty teas and smoothies exhibited growth at Top 500 limited-service restaurants. Specialty coffee increased by 10% on limited-service menus over the past two years, emerging as one of the segment’s leaders. With the rise of sweet tea, specialty tea listings nearly doubled on menus. Smoothies, including fruit smoothies, grew by 8.5%, while the protein-enhanced varieties jumped by 123%, proving that smoothies have become have proven to be a menu mainstay.

“Today’s foodservice consumers continue to base dining decisions on their perception of value,” says Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. “Innovative operators are creating value by crafting new and unique beverages including specialty lemonades, handmade sodas and ‘mocktails’ that are uniquely flavorful, fresh and a better-for-you option.”

With nearly a third (29%) of consumers saying they like to try new and unique beverages, operators can build their credibility and bottom line by leveraging trending flavors with more creative beverage offerings.

To help operators and others aligned with the foodservice industry more effectively understand consumer behavior, preferences and attitudes regarding beverages, Technomic has developed the Beverage Consumer Trend Report.

The number of menu items offered at leading coffee cafés has increased by 18% over the past two years, as non-beverage menu development becomes a major focus in this category.

Two-thirds of consumers say they drank regular hot coffee (68%) and regular soft drinks (66%) at least once in the past month. Roughly half of consumers say they purchased regular hot coffee (46%) and regular soft drinks (53%) from foodservice at least once in the last month.
New and unique beverages are a strong traffic driver for young consumers; 47% of consumers aged 18-24, compared to 29% of consumers overall, say they’d like to try new and unique beverages offered at restaurants.

Technomic’s Beverage Consumer Trend Report examines beverage purchasing decisions, attitudes and preferences based on survey results from 1,500 consumers. The Menu Insights section utilizes Technomic’s exclusive MenuMonitor database to provide an in-depth look at how leading and emerging chain operators menu and position beverages. The report also features 20 emerging and innovative beverage concepts and demographic profiles for respondents who have consumed leading beverage brands in the past week.