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Technomic: Expect Drive-Thrus, Breakfast Daypart to ‘Boom’ in 2024

breakfast, breakfast daypart

America is overflowing with beverage restaurant concepts of late, especially those targeting the breakfast daypart. Utah-based Swig is growing rapidly. Dutch Bros Coffee, founded in Oregon, saw 27% sales growth in 2022. Kung Fu Tea, which traces its origins to Flushing, Queens, saw 19% unit growth last year.

Technomic data suggests that trend could gain further momentum in 2024.

“Even amidst pandemic recovery, beverage concepts managed to grow,” Katie Belflower, associate editor at Technomic, told The Food Institute. Starbucks, for example, saw 15% sales growth in 2022.

Beverages showing the most growth at QSRs since Q3 of 2022 include: punch (+26.4%), restaurant originals/mocktails (+21.6%), Arnold Palmers (+17.5%), and iced lattes (+15.1%).

Beverage concepts’ growth “could be due to consumers increasingly seeking out specialty beverages away from home – the average number of beverages purchased from foodservice has increased since 2020 – as a more affordable way to treat themselves,” Belflower said.

Technomic findings suggest the new year could be especially successful for coffee chains like Starbucks and Dutch Bros. After all, the management consulting firm’s research suggests millennials – especially women – can’t get enough of drinks like lattes.

In a recent whitepaper, Technomic predicted: “In 2024, consumers will scale back their delivery spend in favor of more takeout and drive-thru. A breakfast boom … will have guests treating themselves to foodservice in the morning rather than lunch — as a satisfying, yet more affordable restaurant occasion.”

Pull Back from Plant-based?

Overall, plant-based items were down 1.9% on restaurant menus over the past year, Belflower noted. Plant-based smoothies and coffee drinks, however, are increasingly being offered in U.S. foodservice.

“Smoothie bowls with plant-based claims have increased 24.4% over the past year,” Belflower noted, “and iced lattes with plant-based claims have risen 22.9% on menus” during that time.

Going Global

International flavors seem likely to become even more ubiquitous at American restaurants in the new year. After all, sauces from all over the world have been appearing on burgers and various sandwiches of late.

And that fact, Belflower said, “allows consumers to try new flavors and ingredients on formats they’re already familiar with and allows the [restaurant] operator to innovate menus without adding several new SKUs.”

2024 Prediction

In a recent whitepaper, Technomic wrote that the foodservice industry’s roller coaster of significant losses from the Covid pandemic, followed by substantial growth during recovery, will begin leveling out in the next 12 months. Most restaurant segments can be expected to return to the low single-digit rates of real growth that were witnessed prior to the pandemic.

“The primary threat for all restaurants in 2024 and beyond: America’s aging consumer base and slowing population growth, making organic growth harder to come by,” Technomic wrote.

The Food Institute Podcast

The foodservice industry has had its fair share of twists and turns the past few years, but where is it headed in 2024? Lizzy Freier, Director, Menu Research & Insights at Technomic joins The Food Institute Podcast to talk restaurant traffic, international cuisines, the breakfast daypart, LTOs and more.