The latest research from The NPD Group shows specific food or beverage ingredients do not significantly influence consumer choices of restaurant and menu items, although consumers express the desire for more nutritional information.
According to the study, consumers are making a conscious effort to live a healthier lifestyle and are looking for products made with less fats/oils, sodium, and sweeteners.
However, these attitudes have little influence on a diner’s choice of restaurant and menu item, with only a small percentage of consumers seeking nutritional information such as calories (20 percent) and fats/oils (13 percent).
Of those surveyed, 10 percent identified sweeteners as a concern.
“Pick up a menu today at any popular family restaurant and you’ll see nutrition facts to meet the need of rising consumer awareness around healthier eating,” says Aron Levin, associate professor of marketing and director of the Marketing Research Partnership Program at Northern Kentucky University. “However in the moment of truth, consumers really don’t avoid the foods they say they will.”
The study shows that sodas, sugars, and fats/oils are among the foods people avoid.
As for concern over the type of sweetener, consumers did not express concern for any one specific type. In fact, HFCS was mentioned by fewer than 1 percent of those surveyed, and only 4 percent of respondents specifically visit a restaurant because it has removed high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from menu items.
“Restaurant owners should consider these results before investing substantially in revising recipes or revamping menus,” Levin says. “This especially holds true when making considerations at the ingredient level, as specific as the type of sweetener.”
The research, which surveyed 2,829 adults who visited family-dining and casual-dining restaurants in the past three months, was commissioned by the Corn Refiners Association and conducted by The NPD Group.