As the indulgent holiday season comes to an end, many consumers are eager to start the new year with healthy habits and resolutions to eat better. Armed with new health and fitness goals, many consumers are proactively seeking clean label menus and better-for- you ingredients. 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
The term “healthy” has become subjective in recent years, with different age groups having their own definitions of what healthy means. For some, healthy is defined as gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low-fat or low-calorie dishes, while others believe local, sustainable and organic foods are the healthy choice. And then there are those who want to make sure their meal is free from antibiotics, hormones and GMOs.2
While you may not be able to make everyone happy, you will satisfy the expectations of many with fresh, wholesome foods with high-value menu claims. Take advantage of better-for- you buzzwords like “natural,” “organic” and “antibiotic free,” which have become menu must-haves and can help diners easily navigate the menu.
Here are three of the top menu claims to help satisfy customers seeking better-for- you options:
So, what makes a chicken organic? To receive the USDA Organic certification, chickens must exclusively receive an organic non-genetically-modified-organism (GMO) vegetarian diet with no animal by-products. The birds must have access to the outdoors, and like all poultry products sold to consumers, can’t be given hormones or steroids.
NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER
With growing concerns around exposure to unnecessary antibiotics, many consumers are seeking alternatives to conventional meat products produced with antibiotics. Therefore, it’s important to be able to identify the differences in antibiotic claims in protein products. Did you know that chicken companies typically use antibiotics four ways? One way is for human antibiotics to be injected into the egg in the hatchery. The second way is for human antibiotics to be put into the feed for faster growth promotion while another way is mixed with the water or feed to treat or prevent disease. The fourth way is to use animal-only antibiotics.
While many producers have started to eliminate some of their antibiotic practices in response to consumer demand, some companies are taking the extra step by completely eliminating the use of any antibiotics. Look for chicken suppliers who no antibiotics at all. When you source chicken raised with no antibiotics at all, you can confidently menu chicken with the claim, “No Antibiotics Ever.”
ALL VEGETARIAN FED
While organic and antibiotic-free have become popular requests when it comes to animal protein, you may be surprised to learn that consumers also care about how an animal is fed with a preference toward a grass or vegetarian diet.3 In this respect, consumers believe that what an animal is fed directly impacts it’s quality, taste, and healthfulness. When sourcing animal protein, look for labels that clearly state “all vegetarian fed with no animal by-products.”
Today’s consumers expect transparency and premium attributes and are looking for restaurants that are open and honest about the food they serve. More than 70% of consumers believe antibiotic-free meat is healthier,4 and 45% of Americans are actively trying to include organic foods in their diets.5
The transition from traditional to cleaner, better-for- you ingredients will continue to impact the foodservice industry and how consumers dine away from home. You have a huge opportunity to boost your business by revamping menus to reflect the demand for higher-quality ingredients, so take advantage and look for suppliers who offer organic and No Antibiotics Ever products.
1 Technomic, Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, 2016
2 Tristano, Darren, “Healthy Dining: What’s It Mean To You,” Forbes, 12/12/16, https://www.forbes.com/sites/darrentristano/2016/12/12/healthy-dining-whats-it-mean-to-you/#41a698944d95
3 Refrigerated & Frozen Foods, Study: Restaurant Patrons Want Menu Transparency for Meat, Poultry, 6/16/16, https://www.refrigeratedfrozenfood.com/articles/91080-study-restaurant-patrons-want-menu-transparency-for-meat-poultry
4 Technomic, Consumers want food additives subtracted from menus, finds Technomic’s Consumer4Sight, 6/24/15, https://www.technomic.com/consumers-want-food-additives-subtracted-menus-finds-technomics-consumer4sight
5 Dornfield, Stuart, “How latest marketing trends reflect demand for ‘organic,’” Restaurant Hospitality, 10/7/16.
Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones or steroids in poultry.