Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Provide Nutrition Information?



As most of us know menu labeling laws only affect larger chain restaurants, but I am getting a lot more clients who are smaller chains and even independents. In an industry that vigorously fought menu labeling, why now are so many operators starting to provide nutrition information voluntarily. I thought up and researched a few reasons, and now I’d like to share them with you:

Compliance. The recently passed of the health care reform bill, only affects restaurant chains with 20 or more locations (roughly 250,000 total locations).

Awareness. As more multi-unit and independent restaurants start complying with menu-labeling laws and general concerns about healthy dining increase, consumer demand for nutrition information has also increased. I find that a lot more restaurants are speaking openly about nutrition information. They can see it coming and instead of shying away from it, they are curious about its benefits and impact on their operation. More tradeshows are having whole sessions surrounding nutrition information, healthy eating, and marketing to the health conscious diner. These sessions did not really exist one or two years ago, and now you will most likely find at least one, if not two, speakers on the topic at any given show.

We’ve all read the study completed by the National Restaurant Association’s 2009 Industry Forecast, which says researchers found that three in four adults say they are trying to eat healthier at restaurants than they did two years ago.

Marketability. Providing nutrition information opens a level of marketability that will allow you to reach out to new customers. I’ve seen a lot of restaurants select several healthy menu items from their menus to provide nutrition information for instead of the entire menu. This provides their customers with options for healthy dining and conveys a sense of nutritional responsibility. This is a new era for our industry, a time to broaden our diner audience. I read in the New American Diner survey from Restaurants & Institutions that 82% of diners said calorie disclosure is influencing what they order, and 60% said it determines where they eat. Using social media platforms such as Yelp and Facebook can really help restaurants make the most of their analysis results.

Increase in Sales. A study performed by the University of Missouri found that customers were willing to pay up to $2 more per menu item for healthier menu items when nutrition facts were present. As a Registered Dietitian it’s great to see companies providing this information to diners, but to know that people see true value by paying more is even better!

Why would or why wouldn’t you post nutrition information for your diners?

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