Restaurants focus on innovation to drive sales

by Staff
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CHICAGO — Tough economic times that general increase companies’ cost-cutting efforts have not slowed restaurant menu innovation among the top 250 restaurant chains, according to new research from Technomic.

"With consumers cutting back on eating out, restaurants needed to find new ways to bring customers through their doors," said Bernadette Noone, senior program manager at Technomic. "Many chains are using limited-time offers as a cost-effective way to trial new items before doing large roll-outs."

Technomic found that October saw the largest number of limited-time-offers and new menu items in the past five years. The company published in its "Menu Innovation Monthly Report" that there were 547 new menu items, which was 40% higher than the monthly average for 2008, and 157 of these were reported as "back" on the menu, 197 were limited-time-offers and 193 were new items.

The largest numbers of new items were in the lunch/dinner entrée category with 273 items, followed by desserts at 96 items, appetizers came in at 49 items, there were 48 breakfast entrees on the list, and 29 non-alcoholic beverages.

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