Salads are a popular lunch item for restaurants to offer, satisfying customers' cravings for both healthful fare and variety, though sandwiches are also gaining popularity.

Portion Sizes and Menu Variety Drive Lunch Traffic

Consumers regularly eat lunch away from home, and on average, it is a couple of days a week. Operators have been focusing their efforts on gaining a larger share of lunch visits during this highly competitive daypart.

Convenience and speed of service are key needs for lunch. However, today's consumers are also calling for higher-quality fare (80 percent, up from 70 percent in 2011) and one-of-a-kind and innovative lunch items. 

Additionally, the availability of healthy items and smaller portion sizes continue to factor into today's purchasing decision—especially during weekday lunch visits.

"There are definitely opportunities to take share in the lunch daypart," says Sara Monnette,  senior director, consumer insights and innovation at Technomic. "Promotion of premium limited-time items, staggered portion sizes, and better-for-you menu specialties could help capture customer attention and drive midday traffic."

To help foodservice executives understand the latest behaviors, preferences and attitudes of consumers' lunch occasions, Technomic has published an update of its Lunch Consumer Trend Report. Findings include:

  • Consumers demand lunch variety, yet visit a few familiar lunch spots: 60 percent of consumers say that menu variety influences their lunch purchase, yet 47 percent frequent the same lunchtime destinations regularly
  • Diners want appropriately sized lunch portions: three out of 10 consumers (29 percent) expect restaurants to offer smaller lunch portions, and 36 percent (up from 31 percent in 2011) eat a lighter lunch during the week
  • Healthy fare is a strong influencer: consumers say that health factors impact where they purchase lunch during the week (49 percent) and on the weekend (41 percent)
  • Sandwiches are a key platform for lunch-menu innovation: top trends this year call for pork-based preparations with a regional flair and trendy Asian-fusion varieties.

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.