Foods with one or more “free-from” claims dominate today’s supermarket aisles, and restaurant menus at all levels are rife with mission statements declaring a commitment to ingredient transparency. Both regulated claims, like “organic” and “gluten-free,” and unregulated marketing terms, like “natural,” have become common.
To attract attention and boost consumer confidence, marketers are turning to new terms on menus and labels that appeal to those who want to know more about their food — and who want to make educated choices, quickly, that they may feel confident about.
Menu identifiers have become a selling point for restaurant diners, though there is some concern such claims may deter non-allergic consumers from some items, Conaghan said.
“Callouts to allergens [on menus] including gluten-free (on 24 percent of menus), dairy-free, nut-free, etc., are still growing, but more and more restaurants seem to be preferring to ask customers on the front end about allergies so they can discuss options with them rather than declare them on the menu,” she said.
The company reports that “local” ingredient claims continue to appear more frequently on restaurant menus, up 65 percent over the past four years and now on 14 percent of menus. However, Conaghan said "local" has shown some slowing of growth as consumers realize what “local” for their region could mean.
“For example, eating local in the Midwest during winter months really limits your options,” she said.