Local, natural and organic are the new consumer definitions of “health” in USA, Technomic finds

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th January 2013

Consumers perceptions of what is considered healthy eating at restaurants are changing according to a new report by market research firm Technomic.

The Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report by Technomic has found that 50 per cent of US consumers would like restaurants to offer more healthy food, as they would order these options if available.

The new report finds that contemporary definitions of health are now strongly associated with ‘local’, ‘natural’, ‘organic’ and ‘sustainable’ food and drink. Additionally, consumers are seeking more of a ‘balanced and personal approach’ to healthy eating—seeking out ‘better-for-you foods’, while enjoying ‘occasional indulgences’.

Technomic reports that 50 per cent of US consumers said that descriptors such as ‘low salt’, ‘low fat’ and ‘low sugar’ clearly signal health, yet strongly detract from the taste of food. Foods that indicate a ‘serving of fruit or vegetables’, or ‘100 per cent whole wheat’ highlight health on the menu, while strongly enhancing consumers’ taste perceptions.

Darren Tristano, Vice President of Technomic said that there has been a shift in what consumers define as “health,”

“We’re seeing more consumers gravitate toward health-halo claims—such as local, natural and organic, as well as whole-wheat and free-range,” Mr Tristano said.

“Operators can leverage this growing interest in the health halo by developing the kinds of menu offerings that can underscore health without detracting from the taste perception,” he added.

Technomic’s Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report is a comprehensive study exploring healthy dining and health-attribute purchase drivers from 1,500 US consumers.