from Peter Backman, MD, Horizons For Success

Sir; I was unable to attend The Grocer’s Future for Retail and Foodservice conference but I read the follow-up article (The Grocer, November 19, p9) with some interest.
I note with alarm, though, that delegates agreed foodservice would soon represent 50% of consumers’ food spend.
This is a hoary old myth that misleads many into drawing totally incorrect conclusions about opportunities in the foodservice sector.
The facts are these: first, according to the National Restaurant Association, even in the USA the figure is 47% and has been static for several years.
Second, UK consumer spend on food and associated drink away from home amounts to 31% of the total retail plus foodservice spend, as confirmed by joint research earlier this year from the Institute of Grocery Distribution and Horizons.
Third, growth in foodservice has been marginal over the past few years and certainly has not exceeded retail food and drink spend for at least three years.
Under the circumstances, there can be no way that foodservice spend will soon approach the magical 50% - we estimate it will be at least 10 years until it reaches even 40%.
Until there is reality in the way data about foodservice is used (and contrary to uninformed opinion there is considerable available data, only it must not be approached with a ‘retail mindset’), companies seeking to find their way in foodservice will be stymied at every turn.