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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, according to new research from 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:

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  • 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.