Though consumers are spending less on dining out, foodservice consultants at Technomic say that many are willing to spend more on "higher quality" menu items if they include premium ingredients.

In the new study, The Consumer Pricing Strategy Report, more than six out of ten consumers (61 percent) said they would spend more for a higher quality sandwich if it contained premium meat; 41 percent if it were made with premium cheese; and 34 percent if it contained premium bread.

Other findings include:

  • Only 25 percent of consumers say they believe that restaurants are increasing prices because they want to make more money. Instead, three out of four (75 percent) attribute rising menu prices to increases in the cost of gasoline and ingredients.
  • The vast majority of consumers (91 percent) who are cutting back on restaurant spending say they are dining out less frequently. However, one-third (32 percent) say they are purchasing less expensive food when eating out, and one-fifth (19 percent) are ordering smaller amounts and portions.
  • Overall, consumers say they are cutting back more on full-service dining than on limited-service restaurants. Lower income consumers, however, say they are decreasing purchases at both types of venues.
  • Consumers say they realize that menu price increases are inevitable. However, the majority (56 percent) of consumers would prefer that restaurants increase prices slowly over time to meet a specific price, rather than raising prices all at once, or by substantially increasing pricing on certain items.

The findings are based on 2,000 consumer interviews and foodservice pricing data.