Bakers Journal

Less than 30% of Canadians satisfied with restaurant experiences: report

November 8, 2023
By Bakers Journal

Halifax – Less than 30 per cent of Canadians are satisfied with their restaurant experiences, according to a survey conducted by the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in collaboration with Caddle.

The Canadian restaurant industry, having weathered the pandemic, now faces a critical juncture as numerous establishments grapple with escalating expenses related to labour, rent, and food. As of October 2023, more than half of restaurants in Canada operate at a loss, marking a substantial increase compared to the pre-pandemic era when the figure was just 12 per cent, as recently shared by the industry association Restaurants Canada. The persistent challenge of operational costs and food expenses continues to plague the sector.

The Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie, in collaboration with Caddle, surveyed 5,521 Canadians to gauge their perspectives on the food-service industry and how food inflation is affecting their views.

Here are some highlights from the study:

  • 80.1% of respondents acknowledging that higher menu prices have influenced their dining-out choices.
  • 88.3% of Canadians have said they are dining out less due to higher overall food prices compared to a year ago.
  • 77.1% of Canadians now predominantly opt for more affordable dining establishments due to
    the price hikes.
  • 76.2% of Canadians prefer establishments that offer discounts, rebates and loyalty programs.
  • 29.5% of respondents expressed being either very satisfied or satisfied with their restaurant experiences based on the money they spent.
  • 68.2% of Canadians have observed that portion sizes at restaurants have notably decreased compared to a year ago, a phenomenon known as “shrinkflation” within the food-service industry.

Diners in Quebec reported being most satisfied with value for money at their favourite restaurants, with 42 per cent very satisfied or satisfied with restaurant experiences based on money spent. They are closely followed by Prince Edward Island at 41.2 per ent. Only 15 per cent of Manitobans reported being very satisfied or satisfied.

Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, remarked on the survey findings: “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.”

Read the full report.


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