CHICAGO – Consumers don’t want to pay more for healthier restaurant food, according to a recent study by The NPD Group, a leading market research company.

The foodservice market research report finds most consumers (70 percent), especially those 50+ years old — who typically express more interest in healthful foods than their younger counterparts — expect to pay no more for healthier items than they do for other menu items. When asked if they would be willing to pay more for healthful items at restaurants they often frequented, 70 percent of adults over 50 said no, 25 percent said they would pay somewhat more, but only 5 percent indicated they would pay a lot more, according to the study titled
Consumers Define Healthy Eating When They Go Out To Eat.

Forty-four percent of persons aged 18 to 24 said they would expect prices for healthful items to be the same as other items, while 41 percent said they would expect to pay somewhat more. Fifteen percent said they would expect to pay a lot more.

The restaurant segment also played a role in consumers’ price perceptions, the study relays. More consumers at full-service restaurants expected to pay the same price for healthful items as they did for other menu options, while fewer consumers at quick-service restaurants did.

Survey respondents also said they would feel more satisfied after restaurant visits if they had more healthful options available at the same prices as less healthful options – and this includes on the value menu.

“One of the key takeaways from the study results is that pricing of the healthy options needs to be consistent with pricing of other choices on the menu,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst and author of the study. “The market for health today is growing and there is a good opportunity for operators who find a way to offer healthier options at lower price points.”