Wendy's bacon cheeseburger on brioche
All things, barbecue, bacon and steak helped the foodservice industry recover from the Great Recession, NPD Group reported.

CHICAGO – Meat, breakfast foods and growth in the quick-service restaurant segment lifted the foodservice industry out of the Great Recession, The NPD Group reported. The industry expects to end 2015 on a high note with a total traffic volume at 61 billion; visits up 1 percent and consumer spending up 3 percent compared to a year ago.

“It has been a long slow recovery but the foodservice industry has recovered nearly all of the steep traffic losses incurred after the recession began in 2008,” said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst. “QSRs have and will continue to support the traffic gain, while casual dining visits are forecast to hold steady and midscale to decline by 1 percent.”

Meat was among the main growth drivers for foodservice in 2015, according to NPD. Compelling offerings from establishments like Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Applebee’s featured everything barbecue, bacon and steak.

All-day breakfast at McDonald's restaurants begins in October.
Growth is accelerating in the breakfast daypart.

Breakfast remains the fastest-growing foodservice daypart, according to NPD, and growth is accelerating. For example, consumers seemed to respond to all-day breakfast at McDonald’s and burgers for breakfast at Burger King.

QSRs were the strongest performing restaurant segment, representing 79 percent of all foodservice visits, NPD reported. The QSR fast casual category increased visits by 8 percent and retail convenience store foodservice traffic grew by 2 percent. “These two top growing QSR categories are on opposite ends of the price spectrum, but both are meeting consumers’ needs for quality, convenience and value. Total growth for the QSR segment was 1 percent,” NPD said.

Adults 50 years old and older drove most of the industry traffic growth and NPD expects this trend to continue in the future.

Assorted chili peppers
Spice and heat were among the top trends in foodservice for 2015.

Finally, 2015 brought on the heat with sriracha, ghost peppers and jalapeños. The addition of heat and spice kicked up menus and consumer’s satisfaction. Millennials and Gen Z are most attracted to spicy foods, NPD said.

“With continued focus on consumers ever changing wants and needs, the industry can alter the current forecast of minimal growth,” Riggs said. “After all, forecasts are not cast in stone; they are to be used as a guideline and something to work against.”