— The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) released its final 2023 estimates and its latest 2024 Food Away-From-Home (FAFH) Industry and Segment Projections today.

Buoyed by a stable, growing economy and low unemployment, IFMA projects that the FAFH industry will grow 0.9 percent, on a real basis, in 2024. This comes off a better-than-expected growth of 1.2 percent, on a real basis, in 2023. The forecast models were created in conjunction with Datassential, a leading foodservice research firm, and validated by operators from the IFMA Foodservice Leadership Councils.

Fears of an economic recession in 2023 proved false, helping to fuel increased visits and spending by consumers. IFMA expects this consumer-led growth to continue into 2024, barring any disruptions from overseas military conflicts. Additionally, price inflation in the FAFH industry will continue into 2024, with IFMA projecting a 5.0% inflation growth rate, leading to an overall nominal growth projection, in 2024, of 5.9%.

"It’s important that decision-makers across our industry keep up-to-date on projected growth rates and segment data,“ said IFMA President & CEO Phil Kafarakis. “IFMA has recently expanded our membership to include operators and those in the supply chain. Our forecasts and analysis of possible impact on food-away-from-home businesses is important for everyone to review and understand. We are committed to bringing critical information and actionable analysis to our members and offer support to the entire food-away-from-home ecosystem.”

Some of the key highlights from the 2024 segment real growth comparisons to 2023 include:

  • The total restaurant category – including full-service and limited-service restaurants – is projected to grow 0.6 percent on top of 0.8 percent in 2023. This growth comes from continued demand from consumers for restaurant occasions.
  • Quick service restaurants (QSR), which have performed significantly better in recent years than other segments overall, are projected to grow 0.7 percent, while the Fast Casual segment shows bullish growth of 0.9 percent.
  • Midscale restaurants are the only major restaurant segment where IFMA projections a decline of 0.7 percent. Despite higher check averages, the Casual Dining segment continues to grow, at a projected real rate of 0.5%.
  • Collectively, on-site segments in 2024 are projected to grow 2 percent, largely because their recovery from 2020 was slower than that of restaurants. The College & University and Lodging segments are expected to lead on-site growth at 3.0 and 2.8 percent, respectively. The Business and Industry segment continues to struggle.

Looking ahead to 2025, IFMA projects that the food away-from-home industry will have 1.3 percent real growth. The total restaurant category is expected to grow 0.9 percent, while the total on-site category is projected to grow 2.2 percent, on a real basis. IFMA will update this forecast in early August 2024, in conjunction with its Virtual Marketing & Sales Conference.

IFMA members can access all projections, including data on the Retail Foodservice category, through the IFMA Scope® portal, which provides an interactive and immersive view of real-time segment and market demographic information to aid in business planning.