« December 2008 Table of Contents
Foodservice Survey: Restaurants hope for change
Economy weighs heavily on foodservice operators
By Fiona Robinson
December 01, 2008
If you had asked foodservice buyers at the beginning of the
year how their business would fare for 2008, most probably
would have said "fair." Toss in a global economic crisis and
restaurant operators' outlook has changed drastically since
this summer, when SeaFood Business magazine's foodservice
readers were polled for this biennial survey.
A lot has happened in the industry over the past quarter:
Red Lobster announced a menu price increase of up to 3 percent;
Shells Seafood Restaurants filed Chapter 7 and closed all of
its restaurants; and Technomic projected full-service
restaurants will have only 1 percent nominal sales growth for
Declining traffic/shrinking economy was the third most
important challenge facing operators in this year's survey, but
this likely would be the No. 1 challenge cited today.
Sustainability moved to No. 5, down from the third most
important issue challenging restaurants in our last survey in
2006. More sustainable purchasing programs are available now,
as well as certified
species to p u t o n the menu.
When it comes to dealing with a shrinking economy, more than
half of the operators surveyed said their customers are
switching to dishes with cheaper species. Many respondents also
mentioned they are reducing portion sizes, raising menu prices
and reducing labor. Others are focusing on increasing marketing
to drive traffic, while others are engineering value-type
menus. Three-quarters of those surveyed mentioned their menu
prices are higher this year compared to 2007.
Domestic shrimp replaced scallops in the top five of SFB 's
Top 10 list of species on foodservice menus. Imported shrimp,
farmed salmon and crab remain in the top three spots,
More than 25 percent of respondents mentioned they do not
have problems sourcing seafood, while the same percentage also
noted price is their biggest problem when sourcing the
This marks the 20th year SeaFood Business surveyed its
foodservice readers. This summer the survey was e-mailed,
mailed and faxed to almost 3,000 readers who are foodservice
buyers, and the response rate was 8.3 percent.
Restaurant types can be seen in the chart below.
Editor in Chief Fiona Robinson can be e-mailed at