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Operators Can Use Beverages to Drive Sales

Seven out of ten consumers purchase beverages away from home twice a week, Technomic reports.

Consumers' thirst for beverages prepared outside of the home continues to increase, creating an opportunity for foodservice operators to boost check averages and enhance the overall dining experience, according to new research from Technomic, a Chicago-based market research firm.

Technomic's Beverage Consumer Trend Report notes that 71 percent of consumers now purchase beverages away from home twice a week or more, up 5 percent from just two years ago. Specialty coffees, specialty teas and smoothies exhibited growth at Top 500 limited-service restaurants. Specialty coffee increased by 10 percent on limited-service menus over the past two years, emerging as one of the beverage segment's leaders, Technomic reports. With the rise of sweet tea, specialty tea listings nearly doubled on menus. Smoothies, including fruit smoothies, grew by 8.5 percent, while the protein-enhanced varieties jumped by 123 percent, proving that smoothies have become a menu mainstay.

"Today's foodservice consumers continue to base dining decisions on their perception of value," says Darren Tristano, Technomic's executive vice president. "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."

Other points of note from Technomic's study include:

  • The number of menu items offered at leading coffee cafés has increased by 18 percent over the past two years, as non-beverage menu development becomes a major focus in this category.
  • 49 percent of women aged 18–24, and 41 percent of all consumers, agree that their beverage preferences tend to change depending on the season/time of the year.
  • Two-thirds of consumers say they drank regular hot coffee (68 percent) and regular soft drinks (66 percent) at least once in the past month. Roughly half of consumers say they purchased regular hot coffee (46 percent) and regular soft drinks (53 percent) from foodservice at least once in the last month.
  • New and unique beverages are a strong traffic driver for young consumers; 47 percent of consumers aged 18-24, compared to 29 percent of consumers overall, say they'd like to try new and unique beverages offered at restaurants.