Zoes Kitchen healthy menu
Consumers are calling for more easy-to-find healthy options on restaurant menus.

CHICAGO- Forty-eight percent of consumers agree that finding healthy items on restaurant menus is too difficult, according to new research from marketing intelligence agency, Mintel. The research also shows 68 percent of consumers think restaurants should call out healthy claims on their menus.

Consumers continue to try and integrate healthier diets into to their daily eating and believe many of the healthy options at restaurants are too expensive, but when dining out consumers tend to indulge.

Eighty-six percent of American consumers believe that dining out is an occasion to treat themselves and 62 percent agreed that taste is more important than nutrition when eating at a restaurant. Mintel suggests that restaurants offer healthy side dish substitutions as a way to satisfy consumers looking to balance indulgence with health. 

Caleb Bryant, Mintel
Caleb Bryant, food service analyst at Mintel

“As Americans adopt a more holistic approach to their diets, they expect clarity from foodservice establishments, specifically by making healthy items easily identifiable and including more nutritional claims on menus. At the same time, many consumers view dining out as a way to indulge,” said Caleb Bryant, foodservice analyst at Mintel. “Restaurants should offer consumers a way to indulge and also incorporate nutrition by expanding menus to include more healthy sides, while also showcasing healthful preparation methods, such as grilled instead of fried foods. This provides options for whatever mood diners are in, whether they want to eat healthy, are looking to indulge, or possibly do both.”

Parents regard the healthy options for children as a top priority with a 39 percent increase in ordering healthier food options for children over last year, and 66 percent of parents saying they would pay more for healthy menu options. Twenty-five percent of parents believe in letting their children eat unhealthy foods when dining out as an indulgence.

“Kids’ meals are notorious for having low nutritional value, and restaurants have taken steps to add more healthful menu items for children in recent years,” said Bryant. “But while healthy dining is very important to families, restaurants need to remember that dining out is also considered a treat by many and an opportunity to indulge, even for children. Like adults, restaurants should look to cater to children who want nutritious items and those looking to treat themselves,” he said.