There is good news for the foodservice industry as we begin 2011. According to analysts, consumers are going to be willing to spend a little more, and the biggest gainers will likely be fast-casual restaurants and caf,� type chain restaurants. Respondents to a recent Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) survey of restaurant operators showed that only 20% said that the biggest challenge for them in 2011 would be slowed consumer spending, while over 44% said that consumer spending will be their greatest benefit. With food prices expected to rise, over a third of respondents cited that higher commodity costs will be their toughest challenge in the coming year, with nearly 40% expecting menu price increases.
According to the NRN survey, there is optimism amongst the restaurant operators as over 64% predicted sales and profit to increase in 2011, while nearly 25% expected their sales and profit to be flat with 2010 figures. Nearly 38% of respondents plan on increased hiring, while nearly 17% expected to invest in equipment upgrades. New government policies enacted in 2010 now allows for purchases of restaurant equipment and supplies with additional tax breaks.
With the new Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 going into effect on September 27, 2010, new tax benefits are being offered to those who purchase restaurant equipment. Purchases of up to $500,000 can be written off on your 2011 taxes if made by the end of this year. In prior years, these purchases had to be depreciated over several years. So, it seems that there is no time like the present to make purchases of restaurant equipment and supplies.
The Food Safety Act signed by President Barack Obama in early January 2011 will lead to increased food processing facility inspections. This likely will trickle down to health inspectors making more visits to restaurants, and checking for proper use of such kitchen essentials as food storage containers, safety labels and thermometers. Sanitation of cutlery, cutting boards, and other food processing and food prep supplies will likely be more scrutinized during these health inspections.
2011 appears to be moving in a very positive direction in the foodservice industry. Dining out once again will be an option for many consumers with tightened purse strings, should the expected economic growth and new legislation help the industry as projected. This will be a healthy improvement for both diners and the restaurant operators alike. Fewer workers in the industry will likely be seeking jobs, and this benefits the overall economy of the U.S. as well. It appears that the foodservice industry can look forward to healthy growth in the upcoming year!