By 2010, foodservice establishments are projected to capture 53 percent of consumers' food expenditures, whereas in 1980, foodservice captured less than 40 percent. The foodservice industry accounts for approximately 4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and about 11 million jobs. It has been rapidly changing due to economic factors, technological advances, and labor matters.1 This overview covers many of the issues and trends affecting the different segments of the foodservice supply chain including the foodservice operators, distributors and food manufacturers. Changing customer demographics are a driving force in the evolution of the foodservice industry. As the baby boomers reach middle age, they do not seem to have time to cook and their children and grandchildren do not seem to have the interest, or talent. The U.S. population in 2000 had over double ($6,500) the per capita discretionary income that it had in 1975 ($3,109) 2 and, with a high value for recreation and pleasure they are pulled out of the kitchen and into the restaurants. An ever-shrinking world also brings variety to menus as cultures and cuisines converge, introducing new flavors and textures. A tight labor market has affected the foodservice industry from top to bottom leading to a derived demand for convenience products from manufacturers. At all links in the chain, companies are experiencing mergers and acquisitions. Operators, manufacturers, and distributors are all fighting for a share of the profits as competition continues to intensify. This review of the foodservice industry incorporates interviews with industry professionals, current information from leading foodservice associations, and predictions from the top industry research firms and consultants.


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