Some restaurants cutting back on beverages

by Staff
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CHICAGO — Limited-service restaurants have reduced the number of beverage items on menus compared with last year, Technomic reported in its "Beverage Consumer Trend Report."

Technomic said the greatest drop was in customized beverages such as specialty coffees, teas and smoothies, but there has been an increase in limited-time only beverages.

"Limited-service operators are rationalizing their offerings to focus their regular beverage menus on the most profitable, popular and unique drinks," said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president of Technomic Information services. "They’re introducing new, innovative beverage through L.T.O.’s rather than bulking up their everyday beverage menus with long lists of specialty drinks."

At full-service restaurants, meanwhile, there was a modest increase in the total number of beverage items on the menu. One innovative area was "mocktails," which usually are a combination of lemonade and other fruit flavors.

In addition, Technomic found using the terms "100% fruit juice" and "natural ingredients" makes consumers more likely to purchase the beverages, and 57% of consumers ages 18 to 24 said they purchased food or beverage from a higher-end fast-food restaurant in the past month compared with 30% as an average for other age groups.

Consumers do seem to show interest in health concerns when purchasing beverages at food service. Consumers said the top two beverages they believe should become a larger part of their diets are plain bottled water and tap water, and about half of consumers said they should cut back on regular carbonated soft drinks. Just 36% of full-service restaurants and 34% of limited-service restaurants had bottled water on the menu for the period ending in December 2007.

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