The ways people eat and the expectations they have about their food are evolving. Many people are relying on restaurants for at least some of their meals each week. More than half of people eat out each week 1. At the same time, health has become a major concern. Obesity has tripled since 19752 and 42% of consumers are actively trying to lose weight 1. Nearly half of consumers are looking for healthier options even when they eat away from home1 but 58% of them believe they eat less healthfully when eating out 1. As a result, the foodservice industry is looking for ways to offer healthier choices while continuing to keep guests satisfied.
The challenge in foodservice will be to fit into consumers’ lives and offer healthy options alongside the indulgent “treats” they may expect when eating out.
On the other side, health authorities around the world have identified certain foods and drinks as risks and have taken steps to encourage or mandate changes in restaurant and consumer behavior.
Taxes on soda, some juices, and sports drinks are being levied in five continents. On top of that, various countries are introducing junk food taxes. For example, Costa Rica taxes ultra-processed foods, while Morocco has also proposed a tax on unhealthy foods. Denmark implemented a short-term tax on fatty foods that apparently changed consumer behaviour, and Kerala, India recently imposed a fat tax on pizza, burgers, and tacos. In the US, it is now illegal to add partially hydrogenated oils to foods 3,4. Finally, portion and calorie labelling are also starting to become required in many countries. The UK has introduced voluntary average calorie limits on certain foods, Bulgaria has introduced legislation to list serving sizes on all portions, and the US and some parts of Canada have mandated calorie menu labeling for some restaurants 5,6.
Between health authorities tightening regulations and consumers demanding healthier options, the restaurant industry faces a new challenge: how to join in the fight for better public health without compromising on the pleasures of eating out. In addition, food service operators have to address these trends without compromising on perceived value and dining experience for the consumer.
1 Global Data. Foodservice Insights & Trends – Focus on Health, July 2018.
2 WHO. Obesity and overweight fact sheet. 2018.
3 The effects of the Danish saturated fat tax. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016.
4 FDA. Final Determination Regarding Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Removing Trans Fat). 2018.
5 Diabetes UK. Childhood Obesity Plan Chapter 2. 2018.
6 US FDA. Calorie Labeling on Restaurant Menus and Vending Machines. 2018.
Read more on the increasing pressure from regulators and general public on food service operators regarding their contribution to the global obesity rise:
Oversized meals have been shown to be a factor in obesity (01.2019) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190129162359.htm
Larger portion servings in restaurants are a global issue (03.2019) https://www.worldhealth.net/news/larger-portions-serving-restaurants-are-global-issue/
Fast food vs fast casual – Which has more calories? (02.2019) https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/food-and-nutrition-news-316/fast-food-versus-fast-casual-which-has-more-calories-742293.html
Restaurants have gotten a hall pass on obesity and it must end (08.2018) https://www.forbes.com/sites/hankcardello/2018/08/30/restaurants-have-gotten-a-hall-pass-on-obesity-and-it-must-end/#39fdc71e2d51
Death by diet: the race to transform the world's bad food habits (04.2019) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nutrition-food-health-environment-ins/death-by-diet-the-race-to-transform-the-worlds-bad-food-habits-idUSKCN1S601Y