In 2017, the US restaurant industry generated about $560 billion in annual revenue. By comparison, the movie industry generates some $30 billion a year. Food, and eating out, is a big business.
A recent paper by Joel Waldgogel of the University of Minnesota has tried to estimate the “implicit cuisine trade” associated with this industry. To do this, he used restaurant data from TripAdvisor and sales figures from Euromonitor.
Domestic consumption of a foreign cuisine was considered an “import.” And foreign consumption of a domestic cuisine was considered an “export.” Here’s what he discovered (graph from the Economist):
Italy is, by far, the biggest net “exporter.” And the US is the biggest net “importer.” If you exclude fast food, the US “deficit” balloons to approximately $140 billion.
I guess everybody does really love Italian food. For the full paper, click here.