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Americans May Be Foodies, but their Spending is Down

Food enthusiasts (commonly known as “foodies”) are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s American culture. The rise of cooking TV channels, social media recipe swap groups and myriad publications on specialty and otherwise-unknown foods is bring a wider selection of produce, meats and food styles into American homes. This fascination with new types of food also apparently translates into their foodservice choices.

New research from Mintel notes that nearly half of Americans who visit restaurants consider themselves to be foodies, with 47% responding in the affirmative. When the focus group was changed to encompass only Americans between the age of 25 and 35, a resounding 68% noted that they were foodies.

The Mintel research also found that some 86% of foodies are interested in learning more about international food, and nearly half of all foodies would like to see more international options on more traditional menus. The options they’d most like to see more of include tortas (49%), schwarma (48%), kimchi (35%) and matcha (30%).

Now, this is all well and good, but with increased and more diversified menu offerings comes higher price points throughout the supply chain. And this is where Americans’ wants are not being backed up by their wallets.

Eating and drinking place sales totaled $52.3 billion on a seasonally-adjusted basis in October, which represented a solid 0.5% increase over September’s numbers, but according to the National Restaurant Association, nearly 7 in 10 consumers are still holding back on spending.

The bright spot? Younger consumers (the very ones most interested in expanded food offerings) are the most bullish, with just two in ten consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 noting they are holding back significantly on spending.