Health and Nutrition, Front and Center

It will come as no surprise to savvy restaurant operators that restaurant consumers are looking to eat more healthily nowadays. In fact, ever since the late 90s, health and nutrition has been a consistent concern for consumers, and this has only increased in recent years.

In 2014 however, it would seem consumers are ready to put their money where their mouth is, with AlixPartners predicting a decline in the number of restaurant visits over the next twelve months across the board. The most often stated reason for this decline? Surprisingly it isn’t financial constraints, which have been responsible for much of the frequency of visit decline seen over the last few years, but rather, according to 60% of the consumers they surveyed, a desire to eat more healthily.

To meet this demand, alongside other prevailing trends for the year—locally sourced products and produce, sustainability, hyper-local sourcing, and healthy children’s meals to name but a few—operators will face a number of challenges. Primary among these will be the fact that to meet demand, restaurants will need to offer frequent new, healthful, and innovative menu items all at affordable price points.

This is due to the fact that while 64% of consumers are predicted to make dining decisions based on the availability of healthy menu items in their restaurant of choice, they are for the most part unwilling to pay a premium for these items, expecting them rather to come “as standard.”

Balancing consumer demand while controlling costs has always proved a challenge for chain operators, but with the principal trends for the year requiring high-frequency menu updates to satisfy consumer demand, operators with less than streamlined menu management processes are likely to feel the impact on their bottom line.