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Published 02.03.2017

How to Navigate Healthy Menu Claims to Best Satisfy Your Customers

With the New Year often comes the demand for healthy menu options. Motivated with optimistic resolutions to eat healthy, consumers are eager to embrace their new goals. Technomic recently reported that 60% of consumers say they factor health into their dining decisions with 37% saying they’re more likely to visit a restaurant with healthy options.1 However, in order to best satisfy your customers, you must first understand what healthy descriptors are most appealing to them.2

What exactly defines “healthy” menu claims? The answer can vary depending on whom you ask. For some, it’s gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low-fat or low-calorie dishes while others believe local, sustainable and organic foods are the healthiest choice. Furthermore, there are those who want to make sure their meal is made without antibiotics, hormones and GMOs.3

If that wasn’t confusing enough, generational differences can also influence what is considered “healthy eating.” For example, baby boomers, typically view foods that are low-fat and low-calorie as healthy, while millennials perceive foods without antibiotics and hormones as healthy.3 Organic, no antibiotics, and no hormones are all claims that are beginning to emerge on more and more menus in a variety of markets and segments.

A new study shows that a third of LSRs measured offer antibiotic-free or hormone-free ingredients.1 This study also reports that 29% of LSRs offer organic ingredients and 33% offer antibiotic-free/hormone-free ingredients compared to only 19% of FSRs offering organic ingredients and 16% offering antibiotic-free/hormone-free ingredients.1

Since 2014, antibiotic-free mentions have risen 27% on U.S. menus.4 Meanwhile, demand for organically produced goods has shown double-digit growth in recent years,5 with organic uncooked chicken expected to grow in foodservice 12% every year for the next five years.6

“As Americans adopt a more holistic approach to their diets, they expect clarity from foodservice establishments, specifically by making healthy items easily identifiable and including more nutritional claims on menus,” said Caleb Bryant, foodservice analyst at Mintel.7 With New Year’s resolutions still top of mind for consumers, now is the time to showcase a variety of healthy menu claims that appeal to your customer demographic. Be sure your menu clearly communicates healthy claims, while simultaneously promoting your healthy offerings. Ensure that your customers keep your business top-of-mind as they ring in the New Year and their healthy resolutions.

1 Technomic, “Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report,” 2016
2 Mintel, “Healthy Dining Trends,” March 2016
3 Forbes, “Healthy Dining: What’s it Mean To You,” 12/12/16
4 Technomic, MenuMonitor, May 2015
5 United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Organic Market Overview, April 2014
6 Westport Consulting, Organic Chicken Category Report, May 2015
7 Meat + Poultry, “Menus Missing Healthy Insights: Mintel,” 4/11/16

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