About three years ago I walked into a room of restaurant professionals to talk about restaurants providing nutrition information. During my talk I was laughed at, walked out on, and later told that both restaurants and consumers are not interested in knowing the nutritional value of foods served in restaurants. My, how the times have changed.
Last week I had a chance to attend and speak at the International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York (what a mouthful). The topic of my seminar was Calorie Posting Success Stories; I talked about real-life restaurateurs who have had great experiences with posting nutrition information, and how other restaurants may also benefit. Here are some of the high points:
- In a 2010 study by Ohio State University, high calorie item sales decreased, while low calorie item sales increased, with the lowest-calorie menu item increasing in sales by 50%.
- New York-based restaurant chain Energy Kitchen offers no menu item over 500 calories. Sales were up over 25% from 2010 compared to the previous year. The controlled-calorie concept is a hit with diners, with numerous testimonials shared from the company website as well as praise on the consumer rating website Yelp.
- Frozen yogurt giant Red Mango uses nutrition information as a centerpiece in their marketing to gain an edge over their competitors. Famous among patrons for their 90-calorie cups, the chain is now the fastest-growing retailer of frozen yogurt and smoothies.
- A study conducted by Usable Health, makers of the restaurant-ordering terminal Smart Menu, found that 61% of customers at Asia café Tin Drum were more likely to return after using a POS that supplied nutrition information.
You have probably heard me write about such stats before; the really amazing thing was the change in the audience. For one, a large audience – standing room only! There was a lot a lot of head nodding and agreement as opposed to grumbling and giggles. I even had a restaurateur speak up and give her own calorie posting success story, and get this, from a southern food restaurant!I knew our day would come.