Mexican food on the rise in restaurants

by Staff
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CHICAGO — Mexican food is now more popular than ever in food service with restaurants achieving sales increases and unit count increases despite industry-wide contraction, according to market researcher Technomic.
In 2009, limited-service Mexican restaurant chains increased sales by 2.7% and unit counts by 1.8% despite industry-wide contraction of 3.2% during the same period.

“The rise in popularity of Mexican foods is the culmination of a number of factors all converging in food service at the moment,” said Mary Chapman, director of product innovation at Technomic. “The fast casual boom is certainly part of the equation — Mexican concepts fit well into the fast casual model. Consumers are also calling for authentic ethnic dining experiences and spicier, more flavorful foods, so Mexican concepts and menu items are on trend in a number of ways right now.”

According to Technomic’s “Market Intelligence Report: Mexican” report, the number of Mexican entrees on U.S. restaurant menus was up 3.3% from the first half of 2009 to the first half of 2010 with 5.4% more restaurant chains offering Mexican menu items over that time period. Chicken and beef are still the most popular meat ingredients in tacos, but the number of fish tacos on restaurant menus was up 22.5% in the first half of 2010. In addition, consumers are identifying and relating to regional variations of Mexican items.

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