Technomic Releases Its 2014 Foodservice Industry Forecast

Universities, hospitals, senior living expected to be among the industry's bright spots.

May 22—The feeding operations of colleges and universities, hospitals and senior living facilities are expected to outpace the rest of the foodservice industry in sales growth during 2014, according to a new forecast from Technomic Inc.

Since releasing its last forecast in January 2013, the Chicago-based foodservice research firm has seen slight slippage in 2013 growth expectations for the overall industry, from a nominal 3.9 percent (in January) to 3.8 percent (current projections).

But some improvement is expected over the longer term, especially in non-commercial foodservice, with 2014 industry growth forecasted at 4.1 percent. Colleges and universities, hospitals and senior living are all expected to outpace the restaurant side of the industry.

"In general, foodservice is still facing headwinds that are tempering consumers' willingness to eat out," explains Joe Pawlak, Technomic Vice President. "Slow employment gains and stagnant disposable personal income are a drag on growth. Coupled with the January tax holiday expiration and pending government spending cuts from sequestration, consumers are more cautious about their own discretionary spending."

Pawlak noted that better foodservice growth is anticipated in 2014, but consumer uncertainty surrounding their share of costs resulting from implementation of the Affordable Care Act are expected to moderate industry results.

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In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

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