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Call it the “drinking man’s diet.” This year, more patrons are visiting restaurants just to order beverages, according to a new report by The NPD Group. While customers are cutting back on their food ordering throughout the day, they’re finding more opportunities to drink.

  • Total restaurant visits saw no change as of June, 2012, while visits where patrons ordered food and beverages decreased by 2%
  • At peak, beverage-only occasions are nearly double that of food and beverage occasions
  • Beverage-only occasions happen most often between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Beverage-only and food & beverage occasions tend to even out around breakfast, lunch and dinner service
  • The beverages ordered most often are shakes, smoothies, slushy drinks, coffee and bottled water

The report stressed that operators might benefit from this trend if they focus menus and marketing on this special group of patrons.

“Consumers are responding to new beverage introductions and the aggressive promotion of beverages, and as a result, beverage-only has become a significant growth opportunity for the foodservice industry,” says Kyle Olund, director, foodservice product development at NPD.  

Source: The NPD Group: Beverage-Only Restaurant Occasions are Key to Expanding Foodservice Beverage Sales, September, 2012