Aramark recently surveyed U.S. adults about their away-from-home eating habits, nutritional preferences, and perceptions. Among other trends, a growing number of American adults expect restaurants to offer healthy menu items, yet they are increasingly unhappy with the healthy options currently available at restaurants – an average of only 14% said they are very satisfied. Casual dining saw the biggest drop in satisfaction – from 34% in 2005 to 16% in 2006 – followed by fine dining restaurants, where satisfaction dropped to 20% from 34%, and family-style restaurants, which declined to 17% from 29%.
Source: ARAMARK Nutritional Dining Styles (tm) Research, 2004, 2005, 2006. Note: Percentages represent averages across all restaurant types: fine dining, family style, casual, supermarket delis, fast casual, fast food, and work/school cafeterias; numbers are rounded to nearest whole percentage point.
The vast majority (71%) says consumers are ultimately responsible for making sensible food choices away from home and almost as many (61%) say they probably or definitely will make healthier meal choices in the coming year. “Feeling better,” “living long,” and “having more energy” are the top three reasons; “losing weight” is sixth in order of importance. What will help? The most broadly appealing incentives for healthier meal choices include better value, better taste, and greater availability. Consumers also seem to be asking for nutritional information about menu items and the option to order smaller portions.