Posts Tagged ‘portion control’

Healthy Menu Innovations

May 9, 2012

Does the restaurant industry have a responsibility to address health issues when designing a menu?  Perhaps not, however, faced with a growing interest in healthier menu choices among customers, smart companies are making changes.


At least by perception, fast food restaurants are the worst offenders.  In fact, research shows that 60% of American’s are less than thrilled with their lunch choices.  Often the culprit is limited time.  This is a market to be tapped by forward thinking chains.


Arby’s now offers a Market Fresh Pecan Chicken Salad Sandwich and wrap.  This can be nutritionally improved by selecting whole-grain flat bread or honey wheat bread.  McDonald’s has made apples standard in their kid’s meals.  KFC even started serving roasted chicken rather than fried.


Often the solution is simple portion control.  When diners eat at upscale restaurants, they don’t expect large portions, they expect quality.  By offering smaller meals under more appealing labels, fast food restaurants may appeal to those who would prefer more nutritious options.


Of course, no matter how many options fast food restaurants provide, most customers will still choose foods they know are not healthy.  Lower salt and fat requirements mandated by the government is unlikely to make much of a difference.  The British Medical Journal showed that only one in six diners pay any attention to posted calorie and fat stats on menus.


Salt is the newest target to face criticism at restaurants.  As the flavor of salt is difficult to mimic, reduction of salt may be particularly hard to achieve, but the industry seems committed to make the change by offering selections lower in sodium.


Moe’s Southwest Grill is leading the movement and began using KCLean, a salt substitute, more than a year ago.  This product only contains 50% of the sodium found in regular salt.  The change was made with no publicity and there have been no complaints.  Other well known chains are now following suit.

Smaller Portions Pay Big Dividends

June 18, 2010

Market research conducted recently by Decision Analyst found that more than 50% of American’s throughout the nation believe that at least some restaurants offer portions which are overly large. Many of those surveyed preferred smaller portions than most dining establishments offer. The indication seems to be that some customers would prefer the opportunity to choose the portion size on various menu items.

Making Healthier Choices in Menu Options
According to the research, a full 4,000 individuals, or 70% of respondents, who look for healthy menu options felt the portions offered by most restaurants were larger than necessary. This is a significant percentage, leading many restaurateurs to conclude that bigger isn’t always better.

In fact, for many the realization that the food being offered at their establishment is more than the majority of the consumer base wants is both eye-opening and freeing. Serving smaller amounts of food could lead to a dramatic reduction in food waste and may lead to stronger profits.

Are Bigger Portions Better? It’s a Guy Thing
Interestingly, nearly 70% of females stated that portion sizes tend to be too large whereas only 53% of males felt this way. Clearly, at least in some instances, the amount of food, which might satisfy female customers, may not satisfy the male clientele.

There was also a division of opinion based on age. A full 68% of those over the age of 65 agreed that serving sizes were too large, whereas only 55% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 felt similarly.

Where to Go From Here
Restaurateurs throughout the nation have considered the customers desire with regards to portion size and have revamped their menus to reflect that. According to the National Restaurant Association Operator Survey, 10% of fine dining, 20% of casual dining, and 27% of family dining establishments have increased the portion size choices available on their menus. As a result, according to the NRA, 66% of consumers believe that full-service dining establishments are making it easier to order the right amount of food.