Supermarket Prices Can Rise When Restaurants Downscale

March 05, 2010

Supermarket Prices Can Rise When Restaurants Downscale

As restaurant patrons downscale their spending and make less frequent trips (3% fewer in 2009, says NPD Group), chefs are whipping up menu choices that suit the new conservative spending nature. Chefs are focusing more on foods that define the opposite of haute couture, and that neither they nor their guests would have likely considered as recently as two years ago.

Witness the pricing phenomenon of chicken wings as we crash-landed into 2010. Their average wholesale price soared to $1.47 per pound in 2009, 39% above 2008 prices, and the highest they have been (inflation adjusted) since the mid-1970s, according to Agriculture Department figures reported by USA Today. A source at the National Chicken Council pointed his finger at their new popularity in restaurants, including national chains such as KFC, Hooters, Pizza Hut and 7-Eleven, as the driving force, the paper’s account noted.

Another restaurant tactic: Boston Market just launched a test promotion of $2.99 Market Meal Deals – chicken side dishes, meat loaf, soup and salad in smaller portion sizes at this reduced price, Brandweek reported.

The Lempert Report observes this trend to serve comfort foods for less and wonders where restaurateurs will focus next – and what the impact will be on the availability and prices of these foods in the supermarket. Our team came up with 10 likely candidates that could soon assume greater roles in restaurant menus as traffic drivers – even if they don’t perfectly fit the eatery’s brand image. The need to do business may be just too tempting, and supermarket shoppers overall may suffer from the restaurateurs’ reach.

Our Top Ten fun, wallet-friendly candidates are:
1.    Hot dogs
2.    Popcorn shrimp
3.    Mozzarella sticks
4.    Eggs 
5.    Omelettes
6.    Meatballs
7.    Meat loaf
8.    Baked potatoes (with fillings)
9.    Cheese fondue
10.    Peanut butter fondue

Anyone up for a jog the next morning to work it off?