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Boost profits with natural ingredients, clean foods

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Today’s diners are more conscious than ever about the foods they eat—what they’re made of, but more importantly, what they’re not made of. Consumers are interested in, and in some cases, will pay more for, menu items with health claims such as no preservatives, no high-fructose corn syrup and no artificial colors or flavors.

When operators are building menus and choosing ingredients, there’s opportunity to increase check averages simply by choosing products that are more natural. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite, 82% of operators say that natural ingredients have a positive impact on traffic and sales—with 43% of those operators saying it has made a large impact.

Using natural or clean ingredients is an ideal way for operators to boost profits without having to change much in terms of what they’re serving.

What does clean mean?

According to the Technomic report, the top phrases associated with clean eating are:

  • No artificial ingredients.
  • Preservative-free.
  • Fresh.
  • Hormone-free.
  • Unprocessed.
  • Antibiotic-free.
  • Non-GMO.

For operators looking to increase their profits, it can be as easy as using ingredients that align with these health claims. In the Technomic report, 80% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy—and 43% are willing to pay more for—items that are natural. Seventy-one percent say they’re more likely to buy preservative-free items, and 67% say the same about items that have no artificial sweeteners.

Because these health claims imply quality and are often considered to be more premium, they can command a higher price, leading to higher check averages and a boost in profits.

How to incorporate natural, clean items into menus

If you’re worried that consumers looking for clean and natural foods are only interested in salads and other vegetable-forward dishes and that you’ll have to overhaul your entire menu to appeal to them, fear not—natural, clean and other health halos apply to so much more.

For instance, natural honey can be used to sweeten sauces or salad dressings instead of high-fructose corn syrup, and real cheese—instead of processed cheese—can also be sold at a premium. And, when it comes to items described as real, 49% of consumers say they think those items are slightly or much tastier, and 67% say they are more likely to buy items described as real.

To create enticing dishes without the use of artificial coloring, operators can use natural and organic colors from beet powder, turmeric and spirulina, or they can use prepared ingredients that are free from artificial colors.

To boost profits and appeal to consumers who are looking for clean, more natural foods, making small yet simple changes is all it takes. And best of all, consumers are willing to pay more for these items, so it’s a win-win for operators. 

This post is sponsored by Litehouse Foodservice

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