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Consumers are asking, ‘What’s in our food?!’ You’d better be ready to answer.

060_Gray_YFM Summer 2014_Mildred's Temple Kitchen

Today’s healthy food tells a story, and consumers want to hear it. Recent research by Technomic shows that most consumers want restaurants to be more transparent about menu-item ingredients. Further, two in five consumers cite a rising concern over food additives.

By Technomic Inc.

Because of this growing concern, health claims that convey wholesome, pure ingredients resonate strongly. For example, consumers say fresh, natural or unprocessed attributes help improve perceived taste and health. Similarly, ingredients that naturally boost the nutrition content of an item, such as fruits and vegetables, also enhance taste and health perceptions.

“Menu transparency is imperative and can help drive sales of healthy options,” said Sara Monnette, Sr. Director, Consumer Insights & Innovation at Technomic Inc. “Telling an ingredient’s story – whether it’s farm-raised, local or GMO-free for instance, can directly impact consumer decisions about what to order and where to dine.”

Monnette also says access to this type of information at restaurants often makes consumers more likely to order what they perceive as a healthier item because it allows them to judge its nutritional benefit for themselves.

[View related INFOGRAPHIC: Spotlight on Healthy Eating]

Among the interesting findings:

  • 62 percent of consumers believe restaurants can offer food that is both healthy and tasty.
  • Consumers are more likely to eat healthy in order to maintain a balanced or nutritious diet than to control their weight.
  • Consumers are most likely to buy healthy items at fast-casual and casual-dining concepts.
  • Roughly one in four Millennials expects to purchase gluten-free packaged items more often now that gluten-free retail foods cannot have a detectable level of gluten.