More consumers than ever before believe that eating healthy and paying attention to nutrition are important.
As they become increasingly health-conscious, their perceptions of 'healthy eating' are changing both at restaurants and at home.
According to a just-released study from Technomic's Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, definitions of health have moved beyond low-salt, -fat, and –sugar and are now strongly associated with "local", "natural", and "organic" as well as "whole-wheat", "free-range", and "sustainable" food and drink. In addition, consumers are taking more of a balanced and personal approach to healthy eating---seeking out better-for-you foods, while enjoying occasional indulgences.
In fact, almost two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers agree that it is important to eat healthy and pay attention to nutrition---a 12.3 percent increase over the level in 2010. Moreover, half of today's consumers say they would like restaurants to offer more healthy foods, and nearly as many say they would probably order these options if they were offered.
Half of the consumers polled said that descriptors such as "low salt", "low fat" and "low sugar" clearly signal health, yet strongly detract from the taste of food. However, foods that indicate a serving of fruit or vegetables, or 100% whole wheat highlight health on the menu, while strongly enhancing consumers' taste perceptions.
More consumers today than were polled in 2010 report that they consume local, organic, natural, and sustainable foods at least once a week. Witness the increase in organic foods available at your local supermarket. Plus, companies like Greenling in Austin, Texas and Farm Fresh to You in the Capay Valley (near Sacramento) are thriving by delivering locally grown and organic produce to people's homes and offices on a weekly basis.
Greensboro, North Carolina restaurateur Dennis Quaintance was a pioneer in this movement. Years ago, he began promoting local, sustainable farm products in his four restaurants with great success. Finally, the rest of the world is catching up.
Wise food service providers at all levels will do well to understand the evolving consumer attitudes. Consumers are increasingly looking for healthy choices on menus, especially those that offer organic, local, free-range, whole grain, and similar options.© Copyright 1998-2012 by The Herman Group of Companies, Inc., all rights reserved. From 'The Herman Trend Alert,' by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. (800) 227-3566 or www.hermangroup.com
The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group of Companies, Inc. Reprinted with permission.