Foodservice sales forecast for 2019: Still cloudy, but more sunshine is on the way

Published April 26, 2019

The heady days of 2016 and 2017 seem like a distant memory when we contrast them with the current situation in the commercial foodservice industry. Our projections for the future tell us those memories will fade even further in the coming years.

After a couple of years of solid sales growth across all sectors, nominal sales decelerated to 5.2% growth in 2018, down from 6.0% in 2017, and a robust 6.7% in 2016. For 2019, the forecast calls for a further drop to 4.2% and total sales of around $75-billion.

The real story, as it were, shows in the data after we adjust for inflation. Here we saw a precipitous drop from 3.3% growth in 2017 to a meagre 0.9% last year. For 2019, expect only a small gain to 1.1%. Better days are ahead, however, and growth should continue to improve in 2020 to 1.7%.

There are many reasons behind this slump, all of which are beyond the control of our industry. Consumer confidence is down, eroded by volatile markets and international trade tensions, and slumping numbers in job creation. The average Canadian carries more debt and less disposable income than he or she is comfortable with and that may lead to belt-tightening and reduced discretionary spending.

Looking ahead to 2020, a lower unemployment rate will drive wages up, increasing disposable income by 3.4%. This impending rise partially accounts for the increased sales growth, both nominal and real, anticipated for next year. Expect total commercial foodservice sales to top $78B next year, a record high for Canada.

In the meantime, menu prices will rise an average of 3.1% in 2019 as foodservice owners seek to compensate for rising labour costs, plus staff recruitment and retention expenditures.


For a more in-depth look into the future, as well as insights on how your business can weather the storm, download the Restaurants Canada Quarterly Forecast for Q1 2019. The report is free for Restaurants Canada members.

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Restaurants Canada uses an econometric model to forecast foodservice sales. We base our forecasts on projections of real GDP, employment, consumer spending and tourism. The model explains 99% of the historical variation in foodservice sales.

Shiori Mine

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