Consumers Look for Quality, Not Quantity in Health Options

CHICAGO -- Consumers eating out, whether at restaurants or other foodservice outlets like convenience stores, are concerned about quality healthy food options and not just the number of calories.

According to "Consumers Define Healthy Eating When They Go Out to Eat," a foodservice market research report by The NPD Group, a significant share of foodservice traffic is driven by healthy eating behaviors and a key motivation for healthy eating is feeling healthier. The report also found that food quality, such as fresh, natural and nutritious ingredients, ranks above fewer calories.

"Typically, the perception has been that healthy eating to consumers means low calorie and low fat, and our findings show that the perception is not the reality," said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at NPD. "Clearly, descriptors like fresh or natural will resonate more with consumers than less calories."

Furthermore, the research found that consumers put a high importance on taste, regardless if they are eating healthy or not. In addition, the majority of consumers expect to pay more for healthier foods. "Understanding these trends provide foodservice operators and manufacturers with the opportunity to offer products that meet consumers' needs for healthier options," Riggs added. "More consumers are seeking healthy/light foods and having these options available will meet consumers' needs; however, healthful menu options must be fresh, taste good, and be affordably priced."

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