The U.S. restaurant industry could soon return to growth rates last seen before the financial crisis. Industry sales growth will accelerate to 2 percent in 2014 and could possibly top 4 percent in 2015 for the first time since the recession, according to a Forbes report this week. Increases in sales forecasts are the result of improving macroeconomic conditions and expected improvements in consumer purchasing power, even though rising healthcare and housing costs may comprise a large portion of personal expenditures.

Causes of concern lie within the re-inflation of restaurant industry commodity costs, especially among proteins, and stagnant margin forecasts, which have not significantly changed since January. Anticipated decreases in feed prices over the next six months, thanks to favorable weather patterns and record corn and soybean plantings, may moderate prices and improve protein expansion.