Canadians dining out less as food prices rise: Survey

New research examines Canadians’ perspectives on the restaurant industry

A majority of Canadians are dining out less as a result of higher food prices, according to a new report.

Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, in collaboration with Caddle, conducted a survey of 5,521 Canadians this fall to gauge their perspectives on the food service industry.

The survey comes as Canada's restaurant industry grapples with escalating labour, rent and food costs.

Eighty one per cent of Canadians noticed changes in menu prices over the past 12 months, with 80% reporting that higher menu prices have influenced their decision to dine-out.

A significant 88.3% say they are eating out less due to higher food prices overall compared to a year ago.

When it comes to choosing a restaurant, 84.2% are more selective. Seventy seven per cent say they opt for more affordable establishments.

Discounts, rebates, and loyalty programs are becoming increasingly popular, with 76.2% of Canadians showing a preference for restaurants that offer such incentives.

Still, 89.7% of respondents say they have become more budget-conscious when deciding to dine out compared to a year ago.

Only 29.5% of respondents expressed being either very satisfied or satisfied with their restaurant experiences based on the money they spent over the past year.

A substantial 68.2% of Canadians observed that portion sizes at restaurants have notably decreased compared to a year ago.

"The current level of satisfaction expressed by Canadians who visit restaurants is alarmingly low. Expectations have clearly changed. This survey underscores the profound impact that rising menu prices and food inflation are having on Canadian consumers' dining habits. It's a wake-up call for the entire restaurant industry, signalling the need for innovative strategies to adapt to these changing consumer preferences and economic challenges,” Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, said in a statement.

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