Australian restaurants are struggling in a nation that just doesn’t eat out enough.
It is good to know that restaurants around the world face pretty much the same challenges. During my
recent trip to Chicago, I was lucky enough to spend time with representatives from the US National Restaurant Association, the International Hotel and Restaurant Association, the Japan Foodservice Association, the Restaurant Association in the Netherlands and the Canadian Foodservice Association. Each is battling with smoking, responsible service of alcohol, food safety issues and nutrition.
The stark difference in Australia is our relatively low levels of profitability—largely driven by our lack of custom.
The dining frequency of US operators of about 130 occasions per family per year makes our current frequency of 85-odd look pretty grim.
Getting the mix of restaurants and consumer demand right is essential in creating a sustainable industry. Tourism is a good top up, with visitor expenditure supplementing that of locals, but inbound numbers are not yet at a point where we can relax with the local market.
But we are on the right track by travelling overseas. The Action Agenda Marketing and Promotion Initiative is all about growing the market. What was obvious from our experiences in the US was how important this initiative really is to the future of our industry.
President, Restaurant & Catering Australia