It shouldn’t come as a surprise, or even as news, that the foodservice industry has had some trouble for the last few years.  It’s all anybody hears about anymore when it comes to restaurants and other foodservice businesses. This news brief intends to tell a slightly different story.

Data from the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) shows that the last three years have been rocky rather than cliff-like, with a wild swing coming in the second year.

According to the data, eating out supplied the majority of food in 2019, which had been the trend for years at that point.  People had $1.06 trillion worth of food served to them outside of the home, versus just $83 billion that was bought for home consumption.

At the end of 2020, we found out that the foodservice industry had experienced its largest drop in history. Lockdowns and the economic strain that followed pulled the sector down 13%, bringing the total share of food supplied away-from-home to $922.2 billion. However, food retailers saw sales fly up to $887.8 billion, a 970% increase!!

A year later, at 2021’s end, we found things had returned to their proper balance, only this time, foodservice sales shot up to $1.17 trillion out a total of $2.12 trillion. We now know that the easing of lockdowns and all the banked-up money people had turned 2021 into a spending spree not seen in years.

Taken as a whole, we can see that 2020 may have just been a hiccup for foodservice sales and can be expected to continue its dominance over food retailing. But we have to temper that with the current state of things. More than halfway through the year, we find ourselves amid a multitude of problems that seem to be steering us toward a recession. Will spending on food have decreased again? Will numbers favor one sector so sharply over the other?

Answers to those questions will have to wait another five months to materialize, and when they do, you can be sure NJ Food Supply will be there to report it.