More Restaurants Promoting "Gluten Free" or "Signature" Items

by | 3 minute read

Recent­ly, con­sumer con­fi­dence in the food indus­try has been shak­en by food scan­dals, lack of trans­paren­cy in food prepa­ra­tion and ques­tion­able treat­ment of ani­mals.  As a result, restau­rants have shift­ed their busi­ness prac­tices to intro­duce a greater num­ber and wider vari­ety of claims that reflect trend­ing food con­cerns, in hopes of regain­ing con­sumers’ trust. Accord­ing to Mintel Menu Insights, while “organ­ic” is still the lead­ing eth­i­cal claim on restau­rant menus, its usage declined 28% between Q4 2010–13.

"The real­i­ty is that organ­ic foods are quite expen­sive and con­sumers are look­ing for alter­na­tive claims to help them deter­mine what oth­er types of menu items are safe and of good qual­i­ty to eat. Tying into this, we are see­ing a return to tried-and-true, tra­di­tion­al prepa­ra­tions, sig­naled by claims tied to clas­sic, orig­i­nal, home­made, etc.," says Julia Gallo-Torres, cat­e­go­ry man­ag­er — US food­ser­vice Oxy­gen reports.

While organ­ic is in decline, claims like “gluten free” are appear­ing more fre­quent­ly on restau­rant menus, post­ing a 200% increase between Q4 2010–13, and account­ing for 40% of the total growth in ingre­di­ent nutri­tion­al claims on the menu dur­ing the same time peri­od. Mean­while, the biggest growth in ingre­di­ent claims came from nutri­tion­al claims (up 14%) and geo­graph­ic claims (up 12%).

"Many Amer­i­cans look to menu infor­ma­tion to eat bet­ter and health­i­er. Nutri­tion­al claims sig­nal that cer­tain foods can con­tribute to gen­er­al health. In terms of geo­graph­ic claims, con­sumers are seek­ing din­ing expe­ri­ences that are more authen­tic and these claims also can con­vey a health­i­er pre­sen­ta­tion," con­tin­ues Julia.

Mintel Menu Insights also found that con­sumers are look­ing for foods that are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of being home­made; for exam­ple, the claim “made from scratch” is con­tribut­ing 10% to the over­all growth of all restau­rant menu claims. Also tying into this trend is the growth of claims such as orig­i­nal recipe, freshly-picked, farm­stead and farm style. And as oper­a­tors try to sig­nal that their offer­ings are unique, “sig­na­ture” as an ingre­di­ent mar­ket­ing claim grew 34%.

The num­ber of allergen-related claims will con­tin­ue to gain momen­tum, as more peo­ple are offi­cial­ly diag­nosed with spe­cif­ic aller­gies and their fam­i­lies also go on restrict­ed diets to help keep them healthy. Lean­ing towards health, there also is a surge in veg­e­tar­i­an and veg­an foods. Peo­ple also want to know where their foods are com­ing from. Con­sumers will con­tin­ue to look to menus for guid­ance on what to eat,” Julia con­cludes.

Ad-ology Research has dis­cov­ered that 13% of fre­quent din­ers are high income con­sumers (earn­ing more than $200k annu­al­ly), and are more like­ly to be urban dwellers.  And while tele­vi­sion adver­tis­ing has the most influ­ence on fre­quent din­ers, this audi­ence is also more like­ly than aver­age to resp0nd to spon­sored search results/text links, as well as ads at movie the­aters.

Audi­enceS­CAN data is avail­able as part of a sub­scrip­tion to Ad-ology PRO. Media com­pa­nies can access Audi­enceS­CAN data through the Audi­ence Intel­li­gence Reports in AdMall.