What's healthy at restaurants?

January 18, 2013
By Technomic
Jan. 18, 2013, Chicago – Consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious, but their perceptions of what is considered healthy eating at restaurants are also changing. Contemporary definitions of health are strongly associated with local, natural, organic and sustainable food and drink. Additionally, consumers are taking more of a balanced and personal approach to healthy eating – seeking out better-for-you foods, while enjoying occasional indulgences.

“More consumers than ever before tell us that eating healthy and paying attention to nutrition is important,” says Darren Tristano, vice-president of Technomic. “However, there’s a shift happening in terms of what actually defines healthy for them. We’re seeing more consumers gravitate toward health-halo claims – such as local, natural and organic, as well as whole-wheat and free-range. Operators can leverage this growing interest in the health halo by developing the kinds of menu offerings that can underscore health without detracting from the taste perception.”

To help foodservice executives better understand consumer behavior, preferences and attitudes regarding healthy eating, Technomic has developed the Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report. Interesting findings include:
  • Sixty-four percent of consumers today – up from 57 per cent in 2010 – agree that it is important to eat healthy and pay attention to nutrition.
  • Half of today’s consumers (50 per cent) report that they eat healthy food to have a nutritious and balanced diet.
  • Half of consumers say they would like restaurants to offer more healthy foods, and nearly as many say they would probably order these options if they were offered.
  • Thirty-eight percent of consumers today – up from 33 per cent in 2010 – say they are more likely to visit restaurants that have healthy menu options, even if they do not order a better-for-you item.
  • More consumers today than polled in 2010 report that they consume local, organic, natural and sustainable foods at least once a week.
  • Half of consumers say that descriptors such as low salt, low fat and low sugar clearly signal health, yet strongly detract from the taste of food. However, foods that indicate a serving of fruit or vegetables, or 100% per cent whole wheat highlight health on the menu, while strongly enhancing consumers’ taste perceptions.
Technomic’s Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report is a comprehensive study exploring healthy dining and health-attribute purchase drivers. The report provides information on today’s developments around how healthy food and beverage offerings are being promoted on menus to appeal to health-conscious consumers.

The Menu Insights section uses Technomic’s exclusive MenuMonitor data to provide year-over-year analysis of more than 50 traditional and contemporary health claims on menus, while uncovering current trends in healthy-menu development.

The Consumer Insights section examines consumer definitions, usage, purchasing behavior and preferences for healthy dining occasions based on findings from an exclusive survey from 1,500 consumers.

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