Consumers Give Low Marks to Restaurants' Healthy Options

CHICAGO — Consumers believe many restaurants are doing a poor job of offering healthy options on their menus, according to a new white paper from Technomic Inc.

Based on data from Technomic's Consumer Brand Metrics (CBM) program, the white paper states that a majority of consumers say it is important that restaurants, including quick-service concepts, offer healthy options. Yet based on their most recent visit, less than half on average rated leading restaurant brands as "very good" when it comes to the availability of healthy options.

"Consumers may not select healthy options on every occasion," stated Technomic's Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. "But increasingly, operators must understand the importance of health to their customers, and many will need to refresh their menu offerings to deliver what their customers demand."

The white paper highlights certain restaurant chains that customers believe excel at providing healthy options:

  • Limited-service restaurants — More than three-fifths of surveyed consumers rate the availability of healthy options at Jamba Juice, Jason's Deli and McAlister's Deli as very good. Additionally, Jamba Juice has broad awareness of its better-for-you brand positioning, and Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers rate it as the top chain on this attribute.
  • Full-service restaurants — More than 50 percent of visitors to The Cheesecake Factory, Bonefish Grill and Bahama Breeze Island Grille say these chains are very good at providing healthy options. Millennials rate Bonefish Grill the highest on this attribute, while Baby Boomers rate The Cheesecake Factory highest.
  • Most improved chain — Whataburger and Bonefish Grill are increasingly rated very good on the availability of health options year over year. This may be due to Whataburger's 2012 introduction of its 550 Calorie Menu, and the fact that consumers increasingly associate fresh seafood offerings with health.

Consumer Brand Metrics offers insights based on ongoing tracking of consumers' perceptions of their recent experiences at 128 leading U.S. restaurants, according to Technomic.

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