Self-service cafeterias remains a niche within Japan’s foodservice industry, accounting for only a small proportion of overall sales. Many consumers continue to associate such outlets with school, college, or work canteens.
It was a tough year for all players within self-service cafeterias in 2020, with the channel not being ideally suited to the post-COVID-19 environment. Nonetheless, the leading players looked to respond to the restrictions and lack of interest in eat-in services by focusing on takeaway and home delivery services.
Udon noodle soup specialist Marugame Seimen managed to increase its lead in 2020 despite still recording heavy losses. The company performed better than some of its rivals thanks to its combination of a takeaway service along with running regular menu discounts to attract consumers.
Due to the nature of many self-service cafeterias, the channel stands to bounce back quicker than many other consumer foodservice channels. With limited interaction with staff and a relatively fast turnover of customers there are fewer concerns about being exposed to COVID-19.
Udon noodle soup specialists were one of the more successful areas of self-service cafeterias during the review period and although they suffered a setback in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, they stand to bounce back over the forecast period. These outlets have relatively few competitors in expanding areas such as third-party online ordering services or convenience stores limited-service restaurants, as consumers do not generally consider these channels to be suited to udon noodle soup.
Price discounting and new menu developments are likely to be key to driving sales within self-service cafeterias over the forecast period, with the line between limited-service restaurants and self-service cafeterias becoming increasingly blurred. This blurring of the lines is being partially driven by some self-service cafeterias turning their attention to takeaway and home delivery in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
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This report originates from Passport, our Self-Service Cafeterias research and analysis database.
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