Why The Foodservice Industry Matters
TSR spent time last week at the StarChefs annual International Chefs Congress in New York City earlier this week and we came away impressed with the passionate interest demonstrated by participants and exhibitors for cooking, culinary techniques and tools. The pastry competitions drew contestants from across the country and around the world, the interactive workshops were thronged with attendees eager to learn everything from professional knife-handling to sous vide applications, and corporate chefs demonstrated their companies’ foodservice equipment to everyone from celebrity chefs to amateur foodies. In many ways, the event exemplified the ongoing love affair people everywhere are having with food and its innumerable forms of preparation.
Strong attendance at trade shows is just one measurement of the importance of the restaurant industry in our daily lives. More than 13 million Americans are employed in commercial and noncommercial operations and the National Restaurant Association predicts this figure will rise by another million during the next few years. Many hundreds of thousands of us also have jobs with companies that support restaurants and foodservices, such as equipment manufacturers, dealers, food distributors and rep firms. The scale and scope of our industry makes it a vital economic force, encouraging international tourism, the import and export of foods and beverages, global agriculture and culinary education.
Beyond even its financial significance, the foodservice industry directly impacts the health and wellness of all members of our society. School foodservices introduce children to the basic food groups and teach the rudiments of healthful diets, a key social service at a time when one in four Americans is overweight or obese. The rapid development of restaurants featuring foods and preparation techniques from Latin America, southern Europe, the Middle East and Asia is not only broadening our understanding of the world’s culinary resources, it is also promoting healthful alternatives to traditional menus heavy with high-fat animal protein and processed starches.