Consumers’ reasons for dining out vary widely, though convenience and a tasty meal are at the top of the list for many. For some, going out to eat might be an indulgence. Others seek out restaurants that cater to health or specialized diets. But in any case, a growing number of diners want to enjoy a delicious meal made with clean ingredients.
For operators, menuing clean ingredients has become an imperative. Nearly one third (32%) of people said they would visit a foodservice location less often if natural ingredients aren’t used, according to research from Ingredion. This percentage is very likely to grow, since more than 80% of consumers say that they are more likely to buy a product if they recognize all the listed ingredients. A majority (60%) of consumers are even willing to pay more for a product with simple ingredients.
Additionally, consumer demand for clean and simple food continues to rise as evidenced by U.S. organic food sales which grew 6.4% in 2017 while total food sales grew at 1.1%. This demand is expected to extend to restaurants.
Therefore, cleaning up menus can lead to an increase in revenues and business. Many restaurants have taken steps to go clean and seen success. Popular chain Panera Bread initiated a clean campaign and achieved their goal of making 100% of their food 100% clean. Other chains, including Chipotle and Sweetgreen, are also incorporating more clean ingredients and menu items. Even burger-centric fast foodchains such as Shake Shack are finding ways to satisfy on taste and meet the expectation of clean and simple menu items.
Restaurants and national chains that scoff at the clean movement will face serious consequences and struggle to keep up with the category leaders in this space. Yet, cleaning up menus by utilizing simpler ingredients is not a straightforward process for chains and their manufacturer partners. The challenges are greater when mass production is required. Chains also need to keep realities such as food shelf life and safety requirements in mind. Ultimately, the final product—the clean menu selections—must continue to deliver on customer expectations of taste and texture.
With so much riding on the transition to clean menu items, chains and their manufacturer partners should collaborate with ingredient solutions providers to develop customized solutions, so chains can deliver clean ingredients without sacrificing taste and texture.
Ingredion, a pioneer in the clean movement, has a team of hands-on chefs, nutritionists, and scientists to help restaurants understand what clean means to their patrons. Restaurants can create clean and simple alternatives for all kinds of menu items by utilizing Ingredion’s expertise and wide range of simple ingredient solutions.