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Using quality ingredients to elevate healthier eats

Photograph: Shutterstock

Consumers are becoming more sophisticated in their understanding of healthy eating and nutritional benefits. In fact, one third of consumers (33%) strongly agree that they’re eating more foods because of their specific nutritional benefits than they did two years ago, according to Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report.


As consumers become more educated about ingredients’ specific nutritional information, how can operators address consumer desire for healthier options made with high-quality ingredients? Here are a few ways.


Use natural, high-quality ingredients

Consumers associate “natural,” “real” and “unprocessed” items with healthfulness, as they think these items are less likely to have additives, according to Technomic’s Healthy Eating report. Operators who haven’t already done so may consider working with suppliers to ensure that they’re offering dishes with natural ingredients. Simplot, for instance, offers a diverse variety of foods suitable for an array of diets, from bakeable fries and low-sodium options to gluten-free offerings and more. Even if operators aren’t able to offer fully natural dishes, adding even a few natural ingredients into dishes can help meet consumer demands.


Operators should look for options that include quality guarantees, so that they can trust those foods are going to deliver on flavor and texture without additives. By sourcing ingredients from brands that offer these guarantees, operators can feel comfortable and confident putting these dishes on the menu.


Highlight unique offerings, don’t bury them in sauces

Consumers’ palates have become more sophisticated and diners are showing interest in hyper-regional specialties and flavors. One third of consumers overall—and 44% of millennials—say they want restaurants to offer more ethnic foods and drinks, according to Technomic’s 2018 Generational Consumer Trend Report. While Italian, Mexican and Chinese are still among the most widely recognized ethnic cuisines, diners are becoming more adventurous. Consumers are showing more interest in Indian cuisine, while Israeli and Southeast Asian flavors are making waves, according to Technomic’s 2018 Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report. Dishes from Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines also pose opportunities for operators.

One thing operators should make sure not to do, though, is use sauces as a mask for these unique foods. Rather than burying them, operators should experiment with flavorings that highlight and complement the ingredients’ flavors, rather than cover them up. For instance, using regional or themed shake-on seasonings such as Old Bay on the East Coast and Cajun seasoning in the Gulf states. Another way to complement flavors is to use dipping sauces that reflect emerging global trends. For instance, offer: harissa ranch dipping sauce to appeal to those who may be interested in spicy options; gochujang aioli—perfect for fries—for those who want to try out Korean cuisine flavors; or a Thai chili pepper vinaigrette.


By using lighter flavors and sauces to complement the ingredients rather than cover them up, the quality can shine through.


By keeping healthy food interesting and the menu varied, operators can ensure they’re meeting the demand for what their diners want.

This post is sponsored by Simplot