PORT WASHINGTON, New York -- More folks want their salads on the go, if statistics from the NPD Group are any indication. The consumer research firm reports that orders for main dish salads at fast food restaurants grew 12 percent from June 2002 to May 2003 compared to the same time a year earlier.
The increase comes even though entrée salads at all restaurants increased by only two percent during the same period, according to the NPD Group. When side salads are included, the total number of salad orders at restaurants is down.
The numbers reflect a shift in where and how Americans get their salads, rather than an increase in salad eating, according to Harry Balzer, author of "Eating Patterns in America (EPA)," a report that examines shifts in what Americans are eating, where, when and how much.
"We're not eating a lot more salads, but we are getting them at new places," Balzer said.
Four percent of all restaurant orders included salad as a main dish in 2002, compared to seven percent in 1989, according to the 17th Annual EPA. "Interestingly, a lot of fast-food restaurants had salad bars in the 1980s, and then took them out in the 1990s," said Balzer, vice president of the NPD Group.
More fast food restaurants are now offering salads on their menus, however. "We've got a long way to go to get back to the 'salad days' of the '80s and early '90s, but the availability of entrée salads at fast food restaurants is sparking renewed interest in salads," Balzer said.