2014 is expected to be another year of growth for the restaurant industry, even in the light of difficulties regarding the economy, according to the latest report from the National Restaurant Association.

Restaurant News reports that the NRA sees 2014 as the fifth-straight year of industry sales growth, with expected rises in the market of 3.6 percent. Whereas 2013 has a total sales volume of $659.3 billion, the upcoming year will push that higher to an expected $683 billion.

The new year is also predicted to resemble a major milestone for the restaurant industry with regard to hiring. Restaurant employment growth will have outpaced overall increases in hiring for the 15th straight year, with the industry seeing nearly one million restaurants employing 13.5 million people. This is as much as 10 percent of the total workforce in the United States.

"As our nation continues its road to recovery, the restaurant industry will remain a key driver of economic growth and a leading jobs creator," said Dawn Sweeney, the president and CEO of the NRA. "Restaurants touch every community across the U.S., and 2014 will be a year of growth and innovation as the industry focuses on inspired new ways to meet consumer demand while providing valuable careers to millions of Americans."

Primary challenges in the market will include rises in wholesale food costs for the fifth consecutive year, representing as much as a third of all restaurant sales figures. Labor costs remain another notable roadblock, between rising wages and new government implementations. A muted, slow economic recovery is also responsible for some issues, as one half of adults continue to cut back on spending.

Taking tips from fast food
When looking for ways to benefit from their development, businesses should look toward fast food restaurant trends, like those recently reported in QSR Magazine. for instance, customers are increasingly invested in the origins of their food, wanting to know if it was made responsibly. Fresh ingredients, good-tasting and quality food are in heavy demand.

Bold flavors are also seeing newfound growth, with Asian cuisines expected to be the top taste trend in the overall market. Latin and South American cooking, as well as Mediterranean and regional American types, will also see new popularity. That's because of an increased desire for new and exciting tastes overall from most diners.

Another area of potential growth is mobile technology, through basic features like online menus or advanced concepts like online ordering. No matter which one is chosen, it will help a business better approach its customer base.

Hospitality and restaurant industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in food service equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.