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Are Happy Meals history? According to The NPD Group, there's been a 6% decline within the past year in kids meals containing toys at fast-food restaurants. NPD attributes the decline to several factors.
Healthy vs. indulgent: What do most restaurant customers choose when dining out? According to Unilever Food Solutions’ World Menu Report Global Research Findings 2012, 52% of diners worldwide look for healthier menu options but 72% of them decide to treat themselves instead with something that’s more appealing and not that nutritious.
America has become a snacking culture. People now eat before, between and after meals. What’s more, snacking is and will continue to grow as a global exploration of taste, as today’s younger consumers are more interested in globalized flavors.
Bacon mania is about to reshape restaurants’ dessert and drink menus, but the dining world may yet be spared the likes of pork belly pie or bacon mojitos, suggests new research from Packaged Facts. The researcher attributes the bacon craze to consumers’ embrace of a “deep smoky flavor,” and predicts that’s the element likely to show up in treats and cocktails.
Drive-thru windows at quickservice restaurants are essential to the American eating style—and essential to QSR profitability. According to the NPD Group, there were 12.4 billion restaurant visits via drive-thru windows in 2011— a 2% increase from the prior year. And that number is expected to grow, as customers continue to seek portable foods they can eat on the run.
A growing population of snackers is pushing traditional meals over to the sidelines. In a recent Technomic survey, nearly half (48%) of consumers polled confessed to snacking at least twice a day. With these mini-meals on the rise, here are a few trends to watch:
Even those with the best intentions sometimes fall short. Scarborough Research revealed that 74% of health-conscious consumers (defined by adults who belong to a gym and buy local or organic food) caved into temptation and visited a fast food restaurant in the 30 days prior to their survey. And although these respondents went for the quick fix, the results of the survey showed some interesting results.
The gluten-free trend doesn’t have long legs, reported Dr. Elizabeth Sloan, president of Sloan Trends, in a presentation at the recent Research Chefs Association conference in Texas. Among her findings, a few standout themes emerged:
According to Mintel, more than half of consumers say it's more important to buy local than organic.  A family farm advocacy group recently released the "2012 Locavore Index" that pegs Vermont at No. 1, surprisingly well ahead of California, who came in at 41. While the definition of "local" can vary from state to state and region to region, the two most common standards locavores use are food produced within 100 miles or within the same state that it's consumed.
Which restaurant chains are valued most by Millennials for the brands’ social-responsibility efforts? Here’s a hint: Don’t waste a guess on Chipotle or Starbucks. The fast-food chain viewed by 19 to 34-year-olds as the most considerate toward the environment and employees is the throwback burger concept In-N-Out, according to new research from Technomic.
According to The NPD Group, world foodservice markets have steadily and slowly gained traction without help from the global economy. Here’s a snapshot of those countries that were doing the best at the end of 2011.