March/April 2023

millennials say the option of including alcohol with a takeout or delivery order would make them more likely to choose one restaurant over another similar restaurant. Help (Still) Wanted Throughout the Restaurant Industry While the restaurant and foodservice industry added back 1.7M jobs during 2021 for an end-of-year total of 14.5M employees, many restaurants remain severely understaffed, and this will continue to constrain industry growth in 2022. Despite some gains, 7 in 10 operators across all major segments say their restaurant currently does not have enough employees to support customer demand and most operators expect their labor challenges to continue through next year. Key figures on the restaurant workforce include: Roughly 50% of restaurant operators in the fullservice, quick service, and fast-casual segments expect recruiting and retaining employees to be their top challenge in 2022. Between 2023 and 2030, the industry is projected to add an average of 200K jobs each year, with total staffing levels reaching 16.5M by 2030. Seventy-five percent of operators said they plan to devote more resources to recruiting and retaining employees. Streamlined Menus with More Plant-Based Options and Sustainable Packaging Wellness has gained mindshare, with chefs ranking food believed to boost immunity and plant-based sandwiches highly in a list of Top 10 Trends for 2022. Sustainable, quality- and temperature-retaining packaging options also reign in 2022 as operators continue working to provide the best possible off-premises experience for customers. Meanwhile, restaurant menu offerings remain scaled back compared with pre-pandemic levels due to supply delays or shortages of food and beverage items, and elevated food costs. Key data points on food and beverage trends include: Eighty-eight percent of adults (including 94% of millennials) say they would be likely to try ordering an expanded variety of food items for takeout or delivery if the restaurant used packaging that helps the food maintain the same temperature, taste, and quality as when it’s served in the restaurant. Six in 10 fullservice operators say their menu contains fewer offerings now than it did before the pandemic. Fifty-seven percent of adults say they would likely

participate in a meal subscription program if it was offered by one of their w restaurants. Eight in 10 millennials and Gen Z adults say they would use this option. “Restaurants and their patrons have found themselves in a ‘new normal.’ Given emergent technology, changing consumer behavior and dining preferences, and the extraordinary challenges of the last two years, the industry is unlikely to ever completely return to its pre-pandemic state,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group at the National Restaurant Association. “While recovery speed varies across the industry by segment, the constant innovation and sustained flexibility of restaurant operators are creating a new future for the restaurant industry. There will continue to be ample opportunities for growth in 2022 and beyond.” About the National Restaurant Association Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.6 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We sponsor the industry’s largest trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart). For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.

Contact: Vanessa Sink 202-331-5900

March/April P 27

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