October 31, 2016

Fueling the Rise of Fast Casual

Fast Casual1

According to figures released by Technomic, Inc, last year was a solid year for the restaurant business as the Top 500 largest chains reported an overall growth of nearly 5 percent. Even more so for fast-casual concept restaurants, as this category clocked in with 11.4 percent sales growth, almost doubling the growth of any other segment.

But what is fueling their success?


According to Cargill proprietary research, freshness and quality are drivers when it comes to the consumer decision-making process. “Appealing food, fresh taste, high quality ingredients and healthy options are among the key differentiators for consumers when it comes fast casual over other dining out options,” says Scott Vinson, Cargill Vice President of Sales and Marketing.” In fact, consumers are increasingly conflating freshness with high quality as we saw an 83% correlation between these benefits across operators.


Consumers are moving beyond the traditional American classics with 43% of consumers stating they wanting to try different kinds of ethnic foods when they eat out. And 68% enjoy experimenting with new and different foods and flavors. Vinson says Millennials are leading this trend. “Millennials are literally the tastemakers. They are thrill-seekers who crave heightened experiences like intense flavors and extreme textures.”

Cargill is continuing to invest in innovation for both the retail and foodservice spaces to continue to answer evolving consumer demand. For more information on consumer insights or our latest innovations, contact your local Cargill representative.


*2015 Cargill Proprietary Research (n=8,000)