Menus change as law takes effect
June 16, 2010
CHICAGO — Menus around the United States are changing as the new health care law requires all restaurants with 20 locations or more to post calorie information on menus, menu boards and drive-thrus. According to Mintel, 60% of restaurant goers think restaurants should post calorie information, and 44% think government should facilitate this.
“Menu transparency will allow consumers to have control over their food decisions with a complete understanding of what they’re eating,” said Eric Giandelone, director of food service research at Mintel. “However, getting people to eat healthier requires more than just posting calories or adding healthy options to the menu … the food also has to taste good.”
Almost 60% of Mintel survey respondents said they want something that tastes great when they go out to eat, and 23% said they want a healthy meal. Just 14% of consumers said they are never interested in ordering a healthful meal. Nearly half of survey respondents said they have begun eating healthier in restaurants during the past year through various methods such as reducing fat and eating more fruits and vegetables. Forty-nine per cent of consumers said they are reducing calories by ordering less food.
“From a restaurant’s perspective, there is a concern that healthy menu items may not sell, but there is also a danger to having a calorie-laden menu when the calorie count law starts taking effect,” Mr. Giandelone said. “There may be some initial consumer shock at the calorie counts and chains may have to start listing lower-calorie options or smaller portion sizes to help diffuse this unpleasant surprise.”