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Consumers Demand Healthier Menus

By Steven Krause

One current trend that consumers seem to be demanding is the addition of more healthier alternative items on restaurant menus.  Many Americans are becoming more conscious about the foods they are eating by counting calories and reading labels and ingredients in the foods they are consuming and being more aware of the obesity epidemic that has swept across our nation.    Consumers are also now more aware of the nutritional facts about the foods they are consuming due to the federal labeling requirements that make restaurants display the nutritional facts of the items listed on their menus.  With that in mind, restaurants are currently trying to offer menu options for everyone trying to satisfy the needs of each and every customer.

According to the Health Food Restaurant Franchise Industry Report on franchisedirect.com, “Restaurant franchises across the U.S are removing fat and calorie laden items from their menus and introducing lighter, healthier options as Americans are giving a clear indication that they are more conscious of their health and the types of foods they eat.”

With the fast paced lifestyles that many consumers live today, consumers are demanding healthier menu alternatives at the same price points with the same fast service.  Have you noticed the change in fast food restaurant menus like McDonalds? McDonalds now offers salad options, happy meals that offer fruit options instead of fries, and even KFC in 2010 started offering healthier items like grilled chicken instead of their original fried recipe.  KFC chairman, president, and chief executive officer David Novak stated in the Health Food Restaurant Franchise Industry Report that, “The investment we have made in Kentucky Grilled Chicken help us be much more competitive in 2010 and beyond.”

I feel that the key component in getting the more health conscious consumers to come into your restaurants to try your healthier alternative menu options is price point.  A lot of consumers who value healthier menu options are hesitant to come into your restaurants to try them because many people perceive healthier menu options to be higher in price and aren’t willing to pay the extra buck.  In the article, “Consumers Want More Healthy Menu Options, but Wont Pay More for Them” written by Karen Axelton, Axelton states that in a survey conducted by the NDP Group that, “ In an interesting response, survey respondents said they would feel more satisfied after visiting restaurants if there were more healthful options available at the same prices as less healthful options, including the value menu.”

With the market for health foods growing it is important for restaurant owners to find a way to offer healthier menu alternatives at lower costs to consumers to try and take advantage of this growing and emerging trend in the restaurant industry.

Not only is offering more health conscious menu items good for business, it also can add a new dimension to your menu in turn creating a whole new customer base.  Answering the call of the consumers and offering them products that they want can also give your restaurant a leg up on the competition as well.  If you provide your customers with products that your competitors don’t offer where are the customers going to take their business?  They’re going to come to you because you take pride in satisfying their needs and listen to what they are providing exactly what they are demanding.  Offering healthier menu options to customers not only shows that you are listening to what they have to say and giving them what they want, but it also shows that you care about their well-being and health.  I strongly encourage restaurant owners to grab this emerging trend by the horns and take advantage of the market demand for healthier alternative menu items offered that are offer them at the same prices as the other items provided on your menus.

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