By Rieva Lesonsky
How do Americans define “healthy eating” today? If you own a restaurant, food business or food-service company, you’ll want to know what Technomic’s Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report has to say about consumer eating, dining and shopping habits. Here’s some of what the new study found:
- Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers believe it is important to eat healthy foods and pay attention to nutrition. That’s an increase of 12.3 percent from the last time this poll was conducted in 2010.
- Half of consumers say they would like it if restaurants offered a wider variety of healthy foods. Nearly as many say they would probably order these options if offered.
- Americans’ definition of healthy food has expanded from low-fat, low-sugar or low-salt foods to include words and phrases like “local,” “natural,” “organic,” “whole-wheat,” “free-range” and “sustainable.”
- While low-fat, low-sugar or low-salt foods are widely perceived as not tasting very good, you can capture more customers by avoiding these phrases and instead using terms like “whole wheat” or “contains three servings of vegetables” on your menu. These phrases were identified as suggesting good-tasting, but healthy, food.
- What other terms work on menus? Check out the most popular health claims on menus at the nation’s top 500 full-service restaurants:
- Gluten-free (1,056 mentions)
- Organic (266 mentions)
- Vegetarian (241 mentions)
- Natural (236 mentions)
- Low-Fat (111 mentions)
- Consumers are increasingly trading off – they’re eating healthy most of the time in return for treating themselves to less healthy food on occasion.
- More consumers today than in 2010 report eating local, organic, natural or sustainable foods at least once per week.
Image by Flickr user AndyRobertsPhotos (Creative Commons)Google+