Self-service cafeterias continued its sales recovery in 2022, and the channel is expected to maintain growth in 2023 and 2024, in part due to the economic challenges in the country, which will enable it to benefit from its value-oriented nature. However, the trend when it comes to overall outlet numbers is not nearly as rosy.
As noted in 2022 developments, inflation has been a major storyline for the US (and global) economy. Interest rate increases by the US central bank have begun to show signs of eroding the high inflation rate, but it still remains dangerously high, with no guarantee that it will fall back to the low single digits, or towards the target level, by the end of 2023.
In the short term, highlighting the value proposition of self-service cafeterias is likely to be the most important advertising and promotion angle. However, as innovation in food continues to advance, new opportunities exist for self-serve cafeterias to explore options in alternative proteins and plant-based foods, which is part of the general health and wellness trend in US society.
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Self-service cafeterias are outlets where there is no (or limited) service content. Rather than table service, there are food-serving counters/stalls where customers take the food they require as they walk along, placing it on a tray. In addition, there are often stations where customers order food and wait while it is prepared, particularly for items such as hamburgers or tacos which must be served hot and can be prepared quickly. For some food and drink items, customers collect an empty container, pay at the check-out, and fill the container after check-out. Free second servings are often allowed under this system. For legal purposes (and the consumption patterns of customers), this system is rarely or never used for alcoholic beverages. Self-service cafeterias do not have a cover charge, customers are either charged a flat rate for admission (as in a buffet) or pay at the check-out for each item. Some cafeterias also charge by weight. Self-service cafeterias resemble contract catering self-service cafeterias such as canteens, dining halls and cafeterias located within institutions such as a large office building, school and universities. However, fully captive contract self-service cafeterias are excluded from consumer foodservice. Unlike fast food, self-service cafeterias feature a menu comprising full, regular meals, often with a large choice of first course, main course and desserts. As cafeterias can effectively serve large number of customers with comparatively few employees, they are often found within larger complexes, for example, department stores, shopping malls, travel foodservice (motorways stations, railway stations, airports). Self-service cafeteria examples include: Ciao (Autogrill), Flunch (Agapes Restauration SA), IKEA (Inter Ikea Systems BV)See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Self-Service Cafeterias research and analysis database.
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