Dennis Sun: Livestock Producers Need To Keep An Eye On Restaurant Trends

Columnist Dennis Sun writes: Around half of all restaurant owners/operators surveyed will place greater emphasis on comfort and healthy food, which means more beef and lamb I hope.

Dennis Sun

January 18, 20223 min read

Dennis sun wyo
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Dennis Sun, Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Those in the business of beef, pork or lamb are usually watching the trends of the nation’s restaurants as close as they watch meat exports. When one part of the meat chain is not doing so well, the need for change is there. The bad part is, change is harder for some parts of the food supply chain.

The restaurant side is more fortunate than other parts, as in my view, they can change management practices easier than others. While it is usually nothing more than just changing pricing, management practices usually follow.

I found it interesting reading an article on the 2022 restaurant trends, as the meat industry depends on these restaurants. The pandemic had a big effect on restaurants, and now they are trying to recover.

To provide more insight into the current and future restaurant trends, Popmenue conducted a nationwide survey of 415 U.S. restaurant owners/operators in October 2021 and compiled the findings in a new report filled with must-know trends and real-life examples. Bear in mind, this survey was taken before the latest COVID-19 surge we are now experiencing.

Most restaurant owners/operators in the survey are feeling either very optimistic – 30 percent – or cautiously optimistic – 60 percent – about their outlook for 2022, as they are implementing strategies that will change experiences for both diners and staff.

The findings, as reported in BEEF Magazine, say that like other industries, labor is a major issue for the restaurant industry. Seventy-one percent of restaurants estimate they lose $5,000 or more per month due to the labor force deficit and 37 percent claim they lose $10,000 or more per month.

But 28 percent surveyed anticipate opening a new restaurant in 2022, so this shows many are moving forward. Eighty-two percent plan to increase wages and benefits along with offering signing and retention bonuses.

As you probably guessed, nine in 10 restaurants plan to increase menu prices as they learn to deal with supply shortages and costs. Restaurants also plan to keep increasing technology usage. Fifty-one percent plan to automate online operations over the next 12 months, while 41 percent plan to automate more on-premise operations.

Around half of all restaurant owners/operators surveyed will place greater emphasis on comfort and healthy food, which means more beef and lamb I hope. They also plan to offer more alcohol to-go and 29 percent will offer outdoor dining year-round. Outside dining will not fly in our region. Around 40 percent will increase investments in marketing and loyalty programs and offer more customized ordering experiences.

I’m not sure I want to sit down in a restaurant and order through a computer, but in some restaurants that will be normal, especially in more informal places.

It looks like restaurants, especially in the major urban cities, are having to change to stay competitive. Hopefully our western region will be slower in implementing some of these new changes, as we change less, and I like it that way. I’m not ready to deal with a robot over how I want my steak cooked, but as long as the drinks are stiff, I can change, too. 

The Wyoming Livestock Roundup is a weekly agriculture newspaper available in print and online. To subscribe, visit or call 1-800-967-1647.

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Dennis Sun

Agriculture Columnist