53% of Canadians dine out at least once a week

October 17 2014

New research has revealed 53 per cent of Canadian consumers use food service for dining out least once a week.

According to market analyst Technomic, convenience plays a key role in leading people to eat away from home, while cravings are another factor - people are often motivated to seek out dishes they would be unable to recreate in their homes.

The experience of eating out is another big influence on customers' habits - this includes the ambiance and service elements that contribute to an enjoyable dining occasion.

"Consumers say the sheer enjoyment of dining out is vital for dinner and late-night occasions," said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president of Technomic.

"Key attributes like attentive service, an appealing ambiance, and a craveable mix of menu offerings can combine to create experiences that attract evening traffic and give operators more opportunities to capitalize on dinner and late-night visits."

Technomic's data shows that the fastest-growing items on the top 250 full-service dinner menus are specialty salads, classic cocktails and specialty burgers.

The organization has published a new Canadian Dinner and Late-Night Consumer Trend Report to help foodservice executives understand the latest behaviours, preferences and attitudes of consumers.

Around a quarter of consumers visit restaurants for happy hour (28 per cent), late-night snacks or drinks (27 percent), and special-occasion dinners (23 per cent) at least once a month, the research reveals.

Good overall value was cited by 83 per cent of respondents as a decisive factor when choosing a dinner spot, while just 63 per cent said low prices were key.

Health is also a major influence on people's behaviour, with 53 per cent of consumers saying healthy options are important when choosing a dinner restaurant. However, this falls to 30 per cent who cite such a reason for choosing a late-night spot.

Appetizers, snacks and small plates are particularly popular among people dining out - 57 per cent of consumers order appetizers for dinner at least sometimes, while 45 percent order appetizers and snacks for late-night occasions.