Everyone needs to eat and over
the last several decades Americans have been eating their meals outside the home
with increasing frequency. Busy lifestyles, two-working-parent families, and single
adult households helped contribute to more than a 10-fold rise in food service
sales over the last 30 years. According to research, half of Americans agree that
restaurants are an essential part of their lifestyle. The Food Service industry
satisfies this demand with a varied fare, from quick drive-thru or curbside pick-up
to elegant cuisine served on the finest china. Whatever the taste, budget or schedule,
the food service industry serves up a menu to please every American palate.
The Food Service industry is a
diverse, dynamic and highly competitive industry, serving over 70 billion meals
and snacks in 2005 through outlets ranging from vending machines to fast-food
eateries to fine dining restaurants. Most eating-and-drinking establishments are
small, independent operations with fewer than 20 employees, but the industry also
boasts large corporations such as McDonald's and YUM! Brands (Taco Bell, KFC,
Pizza Hut) with a portfolio of restaurant chains employing thousands of people
and ringing up sales in the millions of dollars.
Catering to American hunger is
good for the nation's economy. According the National Restaurant Association,
the overall impact of the restaurant industry is expected to exceed $1.2 trillion
dollars, including sales in related industries such as agriculture, transportation
and manufacturing. Every dollar spent by consumers in restaurants generates an
additional $1.98 spent in other restaurant-allied industries.
The Food Service industry encompasses more than just restaurants.
Included in Commercial and Other Retail
are eating and drinking places, resorts and other lodging, managed services, vending
and recreation facilities. Non commercial or institutional includes recreation
centers and clubs, businesses, schools, transportation, hospitals and other health
care facilities, and military and penal institutions.
Almost 900,000 food service operations compete for the American
food dollar. Large states such as California and Texas and highly populated states
such as New York and Pennsylvania claim the greatest number of eating-and-drinking
establishments. However, Florida with its aging population and tourism industry
also enjoys a large number of dining out options.
More than 7 of 10 eating-and-drinking places are independent,
single-unit operations and about 70% are smaller businesses with fewer than 20
Reflecting the trend to eat out often, food and drink sales
increased steadily and dramatically over the last three decades, from $42.8 billion
in 1970 to an estimated $475.8 billion in 2005.
The commercial sector accounted for 92% of the
estimated 2005 sales of $476 billion with commercial restaurants leading the way
at almost 70% of dollars spent in food service facilities.
Recreation Centers & Clubs
On a typical day in 2005, restaurant-industry sales were $1.3
Food service sales are distributed across the U.S. and generally
track with the distribution of food service establishments. No state accounted
for more than 5% of total U.S. sales except California (14%), Texas (8%), New
York (6%), and Florida (5.4%).