Restaurants Promote Menu Makeovers

There’s nothing like the latest obesity reports to make consumers pay fresh attention to what they’re eating. This week’s release by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that obesity has increased in over half of U.S. states. And for now, 38 states have obesity rates that exceed 25% of the population.

Reports like this along with the documented and expensive health ills associated with obesity have spurred new legislation that requires chain restaurants, those with 20+ locations, to give consumers the bad news. This means that calorie counts will show up on menus and even on the menu boards presented at drive-thru stations.  As much as consumers say they want to lose weight, they have strong opinions about food choices when they’re dining out. According to Mintel, here’s the picture:

  • Diners want food that tastes great 60%
  • Diners want to eat a healthy meal 23%

Here are the strategies consumers are using in their attempts to eat healthier at restaurants:

  • Order lower-fat options 67%
  • Eat more fruits/vegetables 52%
  • Order less food 49%

Eric Giandelone, director of foodservice research at Mintel, says restaurants worry that healthy meals won’t sell. But he adds that once consumers get a look at the current calorie load in their favorite dish, restaurants “may have to start listing lower-calorie options or smaller portion sizes to help diffuse this unpleasant surprise."  Since 60% of consumers want to know what’s in the food they’re eating, restaurants could benefit by developing and promoting healthier menu offerings now.

[Source: F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 29 Jun. 2010. Web. 1 Jul. 2010; Menu Transparency Takes Effect and Consumers Eat it up, Reports Mintel. Mintel. 16 Jun. 2010. Web. 1 Jul. 2010]
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.