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‘Healthy’ doesn’t just mean low-cal

New NPD report shows consumers look for ‘fresh,’ ‘natural’

Consumers are looking for healthful options at U.S. restaurants but not necessarily for fewer calories, according to recent NPD Group research.

NPD’s report, “Consumers Define Healthy Eating When They Go Out to Eat,” found that a significant share of foodservice traffic is driven by healthy-eating behaviors.

The report also addressed consumer attitudes about the importance of the taste, finding that some consumers equate healthier foods as not being as tasty. It also found that the majority of consumers expect to pay the same for healthier foods as those considered less healthy.

“The perception has been that healthy eating to consumers means low calorie and low fat, and our findings show that the perception is not the reality,” said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at the Chicago-based consultancy.

“Clearly, descriptors like ‘fresh’ or ‘natural’ will resonate more with consumers than ‘less calories,’” she said.

NPD conducted the survey in December, polling 7,080 people 18 years and older who had eaten lunch or dinner away from home in the past three months.

“More consumers are seeking healthy/light foods and having these options available on menus will meet these consumers’ needs,” Riggs said. “However, healthful menu options must be fresh, taste good and be affordably priced.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

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