The answer to this question is ever-evolving. As consumer awareness about nutrition heightens, it has become more common and even required for some restaurants, especially chains, to post calories for each item and/or dish on their menus. In some cases, even when restaurants are not required to publicly display calories for their meals, they elect to do so anyway in the interest of transparency.
The real challenge here is determining whether or not customers want to see the amount of calories in their favorite dish. They know that chocolate chip cheesecake is “bad” for them, but do they really want to know that it’s 2,500 calories and 87 grams of fat? The answer is not as obvious as you think…
In this blog, we will examine how posting calories changes consumer behavior, as well as the benefits of adding nutrition information on restaurant menus and how nutrition analysis software plays a role in this process.
Does posting calories change consumer behavior?
As you very well know as a restaurant owner and food industry leader, you always want to appeal to your customers. In order to do this, you must know your customer. In an effort to better understand how their brains work and their decision-making process, several studies have been conducted to observe consumer behavior.
Upon completion, these studies found that there are two kinds of consumers:
- those that are not influenced by nutrition information on menus
- and those that are.
Pretty simple right? Not necessarily. Customers that are influenced by nutrition information are more likely than not already health conscious. This means that their decision when it comes time to order will reflect the amount of calories in the dish.
Conversely, those customers who are not influenced by nutrition information on menus will order whatever they want to eat, regardless. These customers, however, should not be reduced to one, singular demographic. These customers may be people who want to treat themselves after eating healthy all week or for a specific, special occasion, or they could be people who simply are not health conscious and don’t care about their calorie intake.
Should restaurants be afraid to show calories on their menus? The answer is “no”! A study completed by a Johns Hopkins professor found that 30% of patrons pay attention to calories that are listed on a menu. A recent study conducted in New York City noted that more than half of consumers noticed calorie counts posted on menus.
Benefits of Adding Nutrition Information on Menus for Restaurants
There are countless benefits to adding nutrition information on menus. One is, of course, showing transparency and therefore reliability and accountability. Customers will feel comforted knowing that you understand what is in your food and are willing to communicate that with the people paying for it. Consumers also appreciate having healthy options available to them when they go out to eat, and they will be able to see that you restaurant has those options if you showcase the nutrition information.
Now, let’s talk business. Foods that are high in calories often still remain popular, but other items that are healthier low calories options also increase in sales. Most people want to eat healthy, but don’t know how or aren’t given the proper tools to make those decisions when dining out.
If you show the nutrition information on your menu, diners looking for healthy options will visit your restaurant more which will open you up to an entirely new market.
Nutrition Analysis Software – How does it help?
Nutritional analysis software has great value in terms of being transparent about your ingredients with customers as well as educating yourself about what you put into your dishes. Our user-friendly nutrition facts label software allows you to customize and break down the nutritional content of all of your dishes. The process is very quick and simple: design your dishes, input your ingredients, print out the label, and offer it to your customers with your menu.
Utilizing a nutrition analysis software also allows for the customizing of dishes and recipe experimentation. With this software you are free to substitute ingredients and spice up your dishes with the knowledge of how each new ingredient is impacting the overall nutritional value of the dish. MenuSano additionally lessens financial and time concerns by allowing you to do all of this experimentation and testing in-house rather than sending it out to a third-party lab.
To see if MenuSano is right for your business, check out our FREE trial today by visiting MenuSano.com and signing up!