Spending on dining out in New Zealand is increasing at record levels, with sales in the hospitality industry expanding by 4.2 per cent in the year to March.
But as the overall spend on dining out, takeaways and meal kit subscriptions continues to rise, spending on groceries is fast declining.
According to Stats NZ, more than a quarter of all food-spending in New Zealand is now spent at restaurants and on ready-to-eat meals, such as takeaway hot drinks and pizzas.
About one-third of the pie - approximately 34 per cent, is spent on groceries, down from 39 per cent recorded in 2011.
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The overall spend on groceries has been on a downward trend over the past five years, data from the Consumer Price Index shows.
New Zealanders spent a record $11.7 billion on dining out and takeaways in the 2018/19 year to March 31, according to the Restaurant Association, compared to $11.2b a year earlier.
Restaurants and cafes enjoyed the best growth in the year, with sales increasing by 5.1 per cent, data crunched by Stats NZ shows. That represented a jump of $290 million in sales - three times that of the $79m that the pubs, taverns and bars sector grew its revenue by.
Sales growth increased throughout the industry, excluding the clubs sector. The catering services sector grew sales by 4.5 per cent or $40m.
The takeaways sector has experienced the most revenue growth over the past three consecutive years. This, however, slowed in the 2019 year, up just 2.6 per cent in the March, according to the association's latest industry report.
Cafes and restaurants made $5.9b in the year, followed by takeaways with $2.8b in sales.
Regionally, revenue growth in Kaikōura was the highest, up more than 21 per cent, as the region continued to recover from the 2016 earthquake. The Taranaki region also recorded strong growth in the year, with sales up 10.8 per cent.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said growth in the takeaways segment of the market had led the industry over the past few years.
The sector had revenue growth of 9.2 per cent between 2015 and 2016, 11 per cent between 2016 and 2017 and a 5.2 per cent increase between 2017 and 2018.
Bidois said the more "subdued" growth in the recent year to March could be attributed to the increase in popularity of Uber Eats, and natural order.
"Growth was so significant for so many years that it reached a point that it needed to taper off at a point and that is what we have seen this year," Bidois told the Herald.
"We feel there may also be some impact of Uber Eats and other businesses like them, making takeaway from your favourite restaurant more available than it used to be."
The sector was still growing despite this, she said, with about 1000 more takeaway outlets today compared to five years ago, taking the total to 6000.
About 18,590 businesses make up New Zealand's hospitality industry, the number of businesses increased by 480 in the year to March, with most new openings located in Auckland. There is now one hospitality business for every 267 people in New Zealand, and the industry employs 133,000 people, according to the report.
Bidois said the industry anticipated similar growth between 3 to 4 per cent next year.
"By 2021, we're predicting we will see stronger growth," she said, adding that New Zealanders were becoming more reliant on the industry.
"People are dining out at least one to three times a week on average in our survey, and I believe that if we looked at a wider population that would probably be even higher.
"People are time-poor and looking for options to feed our families that are more convenient and accessible; not everyone has the time to cook in the kitchen every evening or prepare lunches the day before, and I think that's reflected in the growth and spend we see at restaurants and cafes."
Investment bank UBS predicts that there will be a significant increase to spending at restaurants, globally, and that consumers will become more reliant on sourcing food from within the sector in coming years.
"We're already seeing, globally, kitchens in some parts of the western world become smaller and smaller, and that's reflective of changing consumption habits," Bidois said.