ORA is committed to providing thought leadership and rich, exclusive content for members

3Are you interested in trends that impact your restaurant or foodservice business? Some days it is hard to believe how fast consumer tastes change.

We recently saw news about food and beverage trends that started in the developed world - fresh, natural, non-GMO, gluten-free ingredients – they are starting to spread to emerging markets. Fortune 500 consumer packaged goods CEOs, interviewed by Fortune magazine, said “the Internet is an equalizing force … ideas are moving far more rapidly from one part of the world to another … trends are accelerating.”

What does that mean for you? Eight years ago, high-fructose corn syrup accounted for 25% of PepsiCo’s sales and today it is only 10%. And, Beverage Marketing Corp. said Americans drank more bottled water than carbonated soft drinks last year - 39.3 gallons of water compared to 38.5 gallons of soda.

The milestone passed after several U.S. cities voted for a soda tax in November 2016 as Americans expressed concerns about the health impact of sugary drinks. Soda consumption has fallen more than 20% on a per capita basis from a peak of over 50 gallons a year around the turn of the millennium.


Further, the whims of the consumer, the economy and the political storm are whipsawing restaurant traffic. According to the latest report by TDn2k’s Black Box Intelligence, industry same-store restaurant sales in the U.S. fell by 3.7% in February while traffic declined 5%. This followed January’s report of flat same-store sales growth. The report said fine dining and upscale casual were the best performing segments in February while casual dining and family dining were the weakest, with sales dropping by more than 4%.

At the ORA, we track this information. A few weeks ago, we published our first survey of Ohio restaurateurs to explain sales trends in the state. We published highlights from the survey and provided details to all who participated with our partner Cleveland Research Company.

To bring additional thought leadership and unique content to our members, we are scheduling Idea Factory meetings and ORA Local Restaurant Alliance meetings. Check out our weekly e-newsletter called News Bites and our online calendar.

Coming up is our Idea Factory in Cleveland on April 5. The ORA is pairing inspirational speaker Kevin Goodman, who is managing director/partner of BlueBridge Networks, with Dr. Joel Elvery, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Elvery will give an overview of the regional economy and community development, while Goodman will talk about reinvention. We will also provide an update on the latest political news from the statehouse. The event is at Pickwick & Frolic starting at 2:00 pm.

Other Idea Factory meetings this year are scheduled on May 10 in Cincinnati and August 23 in Columbus. Both will feature elite speakers providing insights into our industry and economy. These meetings follow the 61 top-notch speakers who presented at our Mid-America Restaurant Expo in January.

As you can see, 2017 is a year of exclusive content and thought leadership for ORA members.