Statistics Canada has recently provided a snapshot of the eating out habits of Canadians. It reveals that just over half (54%) of all Canadians eat out, or take food out at least once a week.
Dinner is the meal eaten out most frequently (49%), and when nutrition information is easily available, 57 per cent of diners say it influences their food selection.
So what does the popularity of eating out mean for Canada’s fruit and vegetable industry? For one, it reminds us that Canada’s restaurant trade is a huge market for Canadian produce. Even many fast food establishments now include more fruits and vegetables in their offerings.
In terms of markets, it’s easy to become focused on exports because of the media hype about trade agreements, or on produce retailing in grocery stores because of the massive changes in that sector, including new traceback regulations. But our local eateries shouldn’t be overlooked as important buyers of Canadian produce.
Of course the market potential of restaurants - in terms of their produce needs - are as diverse as the trade itself. And depending on where you are, the value chain will determine the produce you are selling: fresh, frozen, processed, packed, etc.
Large restaurant chains often have centralized purchasing contracts where priority is on the consistency of product – year round and much of that product comes from south of the border and/or frozen.
Smaller, independent dining establishments don’t require large volumes but do need assurance of top quality and freshness – especially in the white table cloth trade where ‘local’ and ‘organic’ can be the restaurants’ key selling features. A competitive price may be the one requirement eateries of all size and clienteles have in common.
The respondents to the Stats Canada survey who eat out at least once a week said that they do so for convenience and socialization. Those reasons, together with the public’s increasing interest in healthy eating may warrant a closer look by growers, packers and processors at the opportunities for Canadian fruits and vegetables in the Canadian restaurant trade.
View a more detailed infographic here: https://bit.ly/2RK0v48
Source: Statistics Canada January 10, 2019 release