Barbecue concepts with ethnic twists show growth

by Bryan Salvage
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CHICAGO – Technomic Inc.’s newest study titled "Market Intelligence Report: Barbecue" focuses on restaurant barbecue concepts that are outperforming the competition by providing a balanced combination of comfort and adventure to customers. The study offers insights into where growth opportunities exist in the category and how restaurant operators can capitalize on them, according to the company.

"Barbecue was a great starting point for this new series of reports," said Mary Chapman, director of product innovation. "Barbecue is known for its complex mixture of flavors and preparation methods, and the category as a whole represents that same intriguing complexity. It is a highly regional and evolving category, with some larger chains declining in sales and units, and other emerging chains poised to take their place."

Although the barbecue category was down 6.7% in 2009, high growth rates were achieved by concepts taking advantage of trends involving ethnic flavors and preparations, such as Hawaiian and Korean barbecue. American-style concepts that were able to differentiate themselves as best-in-class also experienced growth despite recent economic challenges.

Other key findings include:

  • Consumers continue to search for more healthful options when dining out, but many do not realize that barbecue preparations or sauces can add a savory quality to food without additional fat or sodium.
  • Barbecue has appeal across multiple dayparts, but consumer preferences vary depending on whether an entrée incorporates chicken, beef or pork.
  • Barbecue menu items are able to touch on each of the top flavor attributes listed by consumers, and can be suited to each customer’s taste through the variety of preparation methods and sauces available.
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