Familiar ingredients, good descriptions help Americans make healthy food choices

Aug. 28, 2014

A new study by Mintel reveals that 27 percent of American diners prefer to order healthy meals with familiar ingredients.

"For consumers who are often on the fence for healthy or indulgent eating, familiarity can help ease them into healthier choices, rather than alienating them with superfoods they have not heard of or have a reputation for lackluster taste," said Katrina Fajardo, foodservice analyst at Mintel, in a press release.

About 38 percent of adults also agree that if a healthy menu item sounds tasty in the menu description, they are more likely to order it.

"The overwhelming amount of healthy-eating knowledge available for consumers can be overbearing, and skew the way they are personally defining health. For operators, this is a difficult position to be in," said Fajardo. "However, if the menu items are described well, and are made with familiar items, it could help entice customers who are seeking a healthy meal."

According to the research, early one out of every four US consumers (24 percent) is not interested in eating healthfully when they go out to eat, because they view away-from-home visits as a treat. Similarly, about a quarter of consumers (24 percent) mentioned that they look at the more healthy options, but opt for the unhealthy meals instead.

"While this may sound like operators don't necessarily need to pander toward the health-minded visitors, there is still a sizeable number of consumers who are willing to purchase healthy foods," said Fajardo. "Operators who do not have a foundation in healthy offerings should continue to offer their traditional fare, but create menu items that are either lower-calorie items, customized versions of main meals, or add locally-sourced or organic ingredients to items in order to boost consumer's perceptions of health on the menu without needing a full menu overhaul."

Topics: Health & Nutrition

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