Healthy resolutions are top of mind among consumers in the new year, and as a result, operators offering diners’ preferred health fare may reap the benefits this month. Data from Technomic’s recent Consumer Brand Metrics survey reveals the top five chains consumers say are doing a very good job offering healthy menu items.
All five of the chains on this list offer seasonal menu items, and 38% of consumers find seasonal fare healthy, according to Technomic’s Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report. Seasonality may indicate freshness for some diners, and the same report shows that freshness is increasingly associated with health.
According to recent customers, here are the top five healthiest restaurant chains, ordered from fifth to first.
5. McAlister’s Deli
Nearly three-fifths of consumers say McAlister’s Deli does an excellent job offering healthy items. This chain regularly adds seasonal menu items to its lineup, such as a Cuban sandwich last summer. Additionally, the chain made green tea a permanent beverage option last fall.
4. Panera Bread
Panera Bread’s place on this list underscores consumers’ growing negative health perception of artificial additives shown in Technomic's Healthy Eating Report. As of this year, Panera’s entire menu and retail product lineup is entirely free of artificial additives, from its bacon to its kids menu. Last month, the chain announced that it would team up with the Global Animal Partnership to improve the welfare of the broiler chickens used in its supply chain by 2024.
3. Seasons 52
Women in particular think Seasons 52 does a very good job of offering healthy items, with 68.8% of ladies saying as such after their recent visit. Consumers aged 40 and older also rank Seasons 52 above average for health (68.9%). Finally, slightly more recent customers who visited the chain for dinner ranked it above average for health (66%) compared to those who visited for other dayparts.
This chain brands itself after its seasonality, offered 52 weeks of the year. Highlights from its previous summer menu include Summer Corn Soup, Grilled Chipotle Chicken Skewers, Sweet Corn & Ricotta Ravioli and Fresh Summer Truffle Risotto.
2. Jason’s Deli
Millennials are driving up Jason’s Deli's overall health rating, with 68.8% of this generation saying that the chain excels at offering healthy options. This past summer, the chain launched chicken nuggets made with antibiotic-free chicken breast, and before that, it released a Super Slaw Salmon Salad made with kale, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, quinoa, Alaska sockeye salmon, cranberry-walnut mix and wasabi mustard-honey vinaigrette.
1. Jamba Juice
Jamba Juice takes first place for health according to customers. Over three-quarters (76%) of Gen Zers say Jamba Juice does a very good job of offering healthy menu items, suggesting that these youths associate smoothies with health more than other generations do.
This month, the chain launched a line of Super Blend Smoothies in collaboration with celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak featuring ingredients such as Greek yogurt, chia and pumpkin seeds, and cinnamon and honey.