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Consumer Trends

Seductive nutrition can sway diners

Healthy vs. indulgent: What do most restaurant customers choose when dining out? According to Unilever Food Solutions’ World Menu Report Global Research Findings 2012, 52% of diners worldwide look for healthier menu options but 72% of them decide to treat themselves instead with something that’s more appealing and not that nutritious.

  • 40% of diners say that healthy menu items don’t sound as tasty. Plus, they are afraid these choices aren’t as filling; people want to be as satisfied as possible when spending their money to dine out.
  • 66% of international diners would prefer to see just “slightly” healthier menu options when eating out
  • 60% of respondents would like to make small changes to their meal to make it healthier, rather than swap out their favorite dish for a healthier alternative
  • 57% of those surveyed believe that healthier options tend to be more expensive
  • One of the main barriers to choosing healthy options is the unappealing way in which they are described on the menu

Restaurants can make meals “slightly” healthier by including plenty of vegetables, lowering the fat content, reducing portion size, grilling instead of frying and using fresh ingredients—without sacrificing flavor or satiety. A well-written menu can have extra appeal for guests, as it allows consumers to understand the origin of the ingredients and also the cooking process—how those ingredients have been treated and prepared in the kitchen, stated the report. Unilever calls this approach to menu development “seductive nutrition.”

“These small changes can make a big difference and will have an enormous impact on the health of diners across the U.S.,” says Lisa Carlson, MS., RD.

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