Secret of our success

Why are dining numbers in the US dropping, but we’re weathering the global financial storms?

Having recently returned from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show and annual general meeting of the board of the NRA, I was again struck by how far we have come in Australia. Not only have we weathered the GFC storm so much better, our restaurant industry remains strong. The industry in Australia is still on a growth path. In the US, dining numbers are on the decline.

For some strange reason, the restaurant industry has been drawn into the resource tax debate in Australia. The suggestion is that when Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) was introduced the restaurant industry was not ruined, so the miners will be OK! This logic is, of course, flawed. The FBT cost nearly 10,000 jobs when it was introduced 25 years ago, and I am sure if 10,000 people lost their jobs in mining we would read about it! This is somewhere near the downturn experienced currently in the US. However, given their scale, 10,000 jobs is not too much of a hit. It does mean that the industry has ended a couple of decades of very strong growth.

The difference in the two stories is mostly demographic. The greater number of Australians in the 55+ demographic means more people in the higher meal consumption bracket. So this trend will continue for another five- to six-years yet, and after that the worm might turn.

Peter Doyle
President, Restaurant & Catering

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