Providing Menu Calorie Counts: Are You On Trend?
In the recent years, menu calorie counts aka menu labeling has become a requirement for all chain restaurants and food businesses with over 20 locations. In short, this law approved under the affordable care act, requires that these eateries list the calorie information in parentheses next to each of their menu items.
Although this ruling on menu labeling is mandatory, Restaurant Business reports that the consumer is demanding more from their dining experience that goes well above and beyond just the nutrition information listed on restaurant menus. I guess it could be said that if you haven’t listed the calorie counts on your menu just yet, regardless of your restaurant size, you may just be behind the curve!
New consumer behavior has begun to dictate a trend beyond simple calorie counts and into functional menu items: meals that aren’t just low calorie but that provide health benefits as well. A true bang for your buck.
These functional foods have been termed “natural enhancements” by business insiders, and their purpose is to not only satisfy hunger but improve the overall well-being of the diner by improving their health.
An example of functional foods include fermented teas and vegetables which contribute to gut health and overall improvement of the immune system. These food choices provide the body with good bacteria to enhance the lining of the digestive system. Since the digestive system controls the absorption of nutrients from the foods we consume, it’s important that it remains healthy.
Consumers are looking even further, past gut health and into anything that can naturally enhance any part of the body. Menu offerings that can improve beauty, brain health, immune system function and beyond are what restaurant patrons are demanding to see. And there’s no end in sight for this health-minded trend.
It is no secret that plant-based menu items have increased in popularity across the board in the recent years. When eating out, patrons are demanding more and more nutritionally dense food choices from restaurant menus. And the best way to get it? Through plant-based eating.
Flexitarian, a popular trend taking the industry by storm, is a lifestyle around reducing the amount of animal products consumed. Patrons following this way of eating are increasingly demanding about not only calorie counts but the specific ingredient information of their entrees. While calorie information is an important factor to this consumer, it is merely one piece of the puzzle. This is the type of diner that may require additional nutrition information regarding the actual ingredients within their chosen menu item.
Beyond Menu Labeling Laws and Into Trends
While larger chain restaurants are accustomed to having ingredient information ready for patrons, smaller food establishments under the 20 location mark may not. And in turn, the consideration of menu labeling for consumer demands and trend purposes may impact your bottom line in a way that you didn’t expect.
When it comes to menu labeling, are you waiting to reach “chain restaurant” status before you comply? If so, you might be missing the opportunity to be on trend and attract a higher volume of customers. Consider calorie counts and ingredient information just the jumping off point for the impact that your menu boards can have.
Interested in menu-labeling? Want to be on trend? MenuCalc is the industry leading software for meeting all of your menu labeling needs. Contact us today to get started.