All trends point to a steadily growing customer demand for healthy adult and children’s menu items and to operators’ enthusiastic response.
Healthy is in
National Restaurant Association studies confirm that today’s restaurant guests clearly want more healthy menu options and more information at hand to help them make their choices. From knowing an item’s calorie count to finding more fresh produce on the menu, customers say they appreciate restaurants’ response and are more likely to frequent those restaurants that offer what they want.
71 percent of adults are trying to eat healthier at restaurants than they did two years ago, NRA surveys say. Restaurant operators are taking notice, with a majority reporting that their customers are ordering more healthful foods than they did two years ago, which in turn encourages operators to add more healthful dishes to menus. In fact, 86 percent of adults confirm that there now are more healthful options at restaurants than there were two years ago.
Healthful options lead culinary trends, according to the Association’s 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Top culinary themes include children’s nutrition (#3), gluten-free cuisine (#4) and health /nutrition (#5). Other menu trends include local sourcing, whole-grain items, fruit/vegetable children’s side items, lower-sodium items, lower-calorie items, and smaller (or half) portions for a lower price.
"We have seen an increasing interest in health and nutrition among consumers over the last several years” — Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., director of nutrition policy for the National Restaurant Association. To help satisfy that interest, the NRA supported a new law requiring chain restaurants to provide comprehensive nutrition information and calories on menus and menu boards nationwide.