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National Restaurant Association - NRA leaders speak on healthful menu options at Fresh Summit

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NRA leaders speak on healthful menu options at Fresh Summit

National Restaurant Association leaders were on hand at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2013 Convention & Expo in New Orleans last week to update attendees on the role restaurants are playing in providing customers with healthful options.

NRA President and CEO Dawn Sweeney spoke during the conference’s general session on the state of the industry, including restaurants’ efforts to offer healthier options.

“As restaurant food becomes more important in time-crunched lives, restaurant guests increasingly demand more healthful options,” Sweeney said. “They also want more information to help them make smart choices. Whether they want to know an item’s sodium count or are trying to add more produce to their diets, American diners are more likely to frequent those restaurants that respond to their needs.”

Sweeney and NRA Vice President of Industry Affairs Joan McGlockton later took part in a panel discussion, “The Changing Landscape: Today’s Restaurant Consumer,” which addressed ways restaurants are adapting their menus to offer healthier options as well as how customers are responding. Joining Sweeney and McGlockton on the panel were Cheryl Dolven, director of health and wellness for Darden Restaurants, Kara Cressey, manager, operations initiatives for Disney, and Christina Economos, associate director of Tufts University’s John Hancock Research Center on Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention.

During the discussion, McGlockton cited NRA research that showed more than 70 percent of adults are trying to eat healthier now at restaurants than they did two years ago.  In addition, she said, nearly two-thirds of consumers agree that restaurants can offer healthy food without sacrificing taste, and 87 percent of consumers believe fresh foods are healthier and taste better.

Each year, Fresh Summit attracts more than 20,000 people who work in the produce industry, including retailers, suppliers, wholesalers, growers, importers and exporters, and executives.

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