Spending on eating outside the home shows increase

Meal deals boosting custom for restaurants

Spending is up in fast-food outlets, restaurants and hotels, a seminar organised by Bord Bia heard yesterday. Its food service specialist Maureen Gahan said last year saw a return to growth for most types of food service sales, ending a period of decline that started in 2008.

“The good news today is that the market is predicted to show continued growth over the next five years to 2018, averaging a 0.8 per cent increase per annum from 2013 to 2018,” she said. Consumers spent less in the pub, cafe and coffee shop category, however, mainly because of the ongoing decline in alcohol consumption outside the home. This masked increased spending in coffee shops.

“Interestingly, there is also an ongoing emphasis on Irish sourcing across all product categories, with provenance, transparency and origin identified as driving trends within the trade,” she said.

The food service sector, which covers the sale of all food and drink eaten outside the home, generates more than €6 billion in consumer spending, according to the Irish Foodservice Channel Insights report, carried out on behalf of Bord Bia by Mintel. This compares with a peak of €7.24 billion in 2008.


The quick service sector, which includes fast-food outlets and take-away counters in shops, accounts for 37 per cent of sales by value, while the pubs, cafes and coffee shop sector makes up 32 per cent of sales. Restaurants account for 11 per cent of sales and hotels make up 6 per cent of food service sales in value terms.

Ms Gahan said casual dining restaurants had experienced growth "due to consumers' desire for an informal meal occasion" and value offerings such as meal deals.

Trading down
The fact that fast-food outlets, pubs, cafes and coffee shops accounted for almost 70 per cent of food service sales showed how "Irish consumers have traded down in terms of their meal options and that lower transaction spend is motivating venue choice", she said.

A survey of 1,000 people conducted for the report found that coffee shops and sandwich bars were the most popular venues to eat in, in the three months to September.

While alcohol sales may be falling in pubs, the report said people were increasingly seeing pubs as places to eat and it was encouraging that more than half of Irish consumers had eaten in a pub in that three months.

Spending on food and drink in hotels saw the biggest increase since the recession began – expanding almost 3 per cent since last year, to account for €384m in retail sales.

Igniting enthusiasm
Ms Gahan said further growth of the food service market would rely on businesses "reigniting consumers' enthusiasm for spending on eating out by injecting excitement back onto menus, revitalising the overall dining out experience and positioning eating out of the home as an integral activity when engaging in leisure activities".

She was addressing more than 200 people from the food service industry at Bord Bia’s annual food service seminar in Dublin yesterday.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times