What is in this article?:
- Biggest restaurant nutrition news of 2012
- Legislative efforts
Three major themes set the stage for restaurant nutrition moves in the coming year
Editor's note: The following column is from Healthy Dining, a company that has been at the forefront of restaurant nutrition since 1990. This series provides restaurant operators with information on industry-related nutrition topics. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nation's Restaurant News.
As we near the end of 2012, a review of the year’s news indicates that the emphasis on nutrition in the restaurant industry will continue to expand in 2013.
Three major nutrition-related themes — legislation, proactive industry efforts and healthier food trends — filled the news and are providing the impetus to help restaurants rise to the challenge of meeting guests’ needs and preferences while demonstrating social responsibility and building a competitive edge. Here's a look back at the biggest nutrition news of 2012 that arose within those themes.
Proactive industry efforts
Many restaurants are joining the Healthy Dining and Kids LiveWell Programs to demonstrate the industry’s proactive, voluntary efforts and to provide Americans with a growing selection of healthful menu choices.
HealthyDiningFinder.com, launched in 2007 in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association and with partial funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has grown to include close to 400 restaurant companies, from large chains to independents, spanning quick-service concepts to fine dining, coast to coast. New restaurants that joined in 2012 include California Pizza Kitchen, Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Restaurants, Roy’s Restaurants, Flemings Steakhouse, BJ’s Restaurants, Mimi’s Café and Which Wich Sandwiches, as well as many regional restaurants.
Eat Healthy Mississippi, launched in collaboration with the Mississippi Restaurant Association, Governor Phil Bryant and Healthy Dining, includes more than 30 state-based restaurants that are now offering a selection of Healthy Dining-approved menu choices, including locally grown ingredients.
Kids LiveWell, developed by the National Restaurant Association in collaboration with Healthy Dining’s dietitians, has grown to include more than 110 restaurants representing more than 30,000 locations nationwide. New restaurants include Applebee’s, Chick-Fil-A, Qdoba, and many regional and independents nationwide.
Healthier food trends
Consumer research shows that more than seven out of 10 consumers said they are trying to eat more healthfully at restaurants today than they did two years ago.
"Based on our trend data, consumers have an increasing interest in health and nutrition, and today's restaurant guests are paying more attention to nutrition when dining out," said Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., the NRA's director of food and healthy living. "To that point," she added, "restaurants are really stepping up to the plate when it comes to expanding their healthful menu options, and consumers are taking notice."
The National Restaurant Association just released its yearly “What’s Hot” forecast, a survey of 1,800 chefs. Top trends for 2013 build upon the top 2012 trends, including healthier kids’ options; locally sourced meats, seafood and produce; gluten-free options; sustainability and increased whole grain offerings. More than half of the chefs surveyed said they always make efforts to adjust dishes and recipes to be more healthful, while 37 percent said they cook with nutrition in mind, but that not all recipes are easily adjusted.