Backman suggests cautious outlook

Consumers haven’t stopped eating out, said Peter Backman, managing director of foodservice consultant Horizons, but they are choosing to eat out less and to spend less.

He added that food service has been through almost three years of decline and may not see growth in the coming year. “For the next six months consumers are going to become more frugal, in my view. We may not be over the worst. My advice is to plan for no improvement in the coming year.”

He said that consumers’ concerns over unemployment, house prices, interest rates and swine flu remain and they will continue to eat more cheaply.

He urged operators to take advantage of opportunities and build for the future.

He also outlined some key differences between retail and foodservice and made the point that retail is about efficient delivery of product, while foodservice is about providing hospitality.

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