U.S. airports increasingly eschewing national restaurant chains, increase local food offerings; at average airport, local offerings constitute up to 40% of dining options, industry insider says

LOS ANGELES , March 30, 2012 () – U.S. airports have begun to increasingly eschew national restaurant chains and increase their local food offerings, QSR Magazine reported March 30.

Bill Casey, a vice president with HMSHost Corp. who serves as a master concessionaire at roughly 70 airports in the U.S., said that local offerings constitute up to 40% of dining options. Although he expects the ratio of local-to-national food offerings to decrease slightly over the next several years, Casey reiterated that the trend of airports going local in terms of food offerings is here to stay.

Over the last 10 years, the number of local-dining options within airports has increased as the airports attempt to adopt a more local feel and offer travelers a sense of what they will experience in the surrounding city.

National restaurant brands still dominate airport food offerings, Casey said, but they are no longer as dominant as they once were. During the 1980s, airport food offerings were almost exclusively national brands. The shift to adding local brands began in the mid-1990s, he added.

Casey said that, going forward, there will likely always be a mix of national and local food offerings at restaurants.

At San Francisco International Airport, 85% of food offerings are now local rather than national brands. San Francisco International Airport Associate Deputy Airport Director Cheryl Nashir said that food sales increased 55% after the switch to primarily local brands. In 2005, the airport decided to switch from using HMSHost as its master concessionaire to making contracts with individual food vendors, a majority of which were local.

Currently, San Francisco International Airport’s average beverage and food spending per customer is US$6.85, the second highest in the U.S.

The primary source of this article is QSR Magazine, Durham, North Carolina, on March 30, 2012.

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