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US Healthy Dining Trends market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Healthy Dining Trends market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Key points included

  • Diners are open to trying healthy menu items
  • Appeal to younger diners with plant-based menu items
  • Almost three fourths of parents are unhappy with kids meals
  • Prioritizing health while dining out is a challenge for diners

Covered in this report

This report examines consumer attitudes, behaviors, and trends towards eating healthy at restaurants. It explains how restaurants are menuing healthy items using Mintel’s Menu Insights (MMI) database. It also examines how consumers feel about eating healthy while dining out, and desired healthy menu items and attributes. To learn more about overarching trends in health and fitness please look to Mintel’s Health and Wellbeing Reports.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Hannah Spencer, a leading analyst in the Foodservice sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Americans' attitudes toward healthy dining are continuing to evolve as diners seek a balanced approach focused on wholesome, real ingredients rather than low-calorie options. While this interest in fresh ingredients is universal, diners' dietary preferences are growing more diverse, reflective of their life stage and personalized nutrition needs Hannah Spencer
Foodservice Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Prioritizing health while dining out is a challenge for diners
            • Figure 1: attitudes towards healthy dining, December 2018
          • Almost three fourths of parents are unhappy with kids meals
            • Figure 2: attitudes towards healthy menu items, December 2018
          • The opportunities
            • Diners are open to trying healthy menu items
              • Figure 3: attitudes towards healthy dining, December 2018
            • Appeal to younger diners with plant-based menu items
              • Figure 4: interest in healthy menu items, by generation, December 2018
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Wellness rules
                • Retail offers customers healthy convenience
                  • Interest in plant-based foods blooms
                    • Healthy for all generations
                    • Market Perspective

                      • Food brands pivot from weight loss claims to natural ingredients
                        • Figure 5: Lean Cuisine Coconut Chickpea Curry
                        • Figure 6: Sweet earth curry tiger
                    • Market Factors

                      • Wellness over weight loss
                        • Growing interest in plant-based eating approach
                          • Cater to shifting generational health needs
                            • Figure 7: Population, by generation, 2013-23
                        • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                          • Plant-based menu items resonate with health-conscious diners
                            • Parents are not so “happy” with kids meals
                              • Creating lighter cocktails that don’t break the calorie bank
                              • What’s Working?

                                • Pushing plants on menus
                                  • Plant-Forward Entrées
                                    • Protein Substitutes
                                      • Non-dairy Alternatives
                                      • What’s Struggling?

                                        • A lack of healthy kids meal options concerns parents and public health officials
                                        • What’s Next?

                                          • Restaurants toast to good health
                                            • Healthy options for all diets
                                              • Figure 8: Restaurant segment preferences – LSRs, by gender/age, October 2018
                                              • Figure 9: Chipotle Lifestyle bowls
                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                            • Most seek healthy menu items (at least some of the time)
                                              • Motivation for healthy dining varies across generations
                                                • Customization is key
                                                • Approach to Healthy Dining

                                                  • Most consumers are interested in healthy menu items
                                                    • Figure 10: Approaches to healthy dining, December 2018
                                                  • Consumers from lower-income households are more likely to indulge
                                                    • Figure 11: Approaches to healthy dining, by household income, December 2018
                                                  • Asian consumers more likely to eat healthy when dining out
                                                    • Figure 12: Approaches to healthy dining, by race & Hispanic origin, December 2018
                                                • Attitudes towards Healthy Dining

                                                  • Almost all diners think healthy menu items can be tasty
                                                    • Figure 13: attitudes towards healthy dining, December 2018
                                                  • Indulgent diners report more barriers to healthy dining
                                                    • Figure 14: attitudes towards healthy dining – Agree, by approach to healthy dining, December 2018
                                                  • Younger consumers more likely to report barriers to healthy dining
                                                    • Figure 15: attitudes towards healthy dining, by generation, December 2018
                                                  • Parents associate organic ingredients with healthiness
                                                    • Figure 16: attitudes towards healthy dining, by parental status, December 2018
                                                  • Older women are interested in smaller portions
                                                    • Figure 17: attitudes towards healthy dining, by age & gender, December 2018
                                                  • Asian diners associate vegetarian menu items with health
                                                    • Figure 18: attitudes towards healthy dining, by race & Hispanic origin, December 2018
                                                • Healthy Dining Behaviors

                                                  • More than one third of diners are more likely to visit a restaurant with healthy options
                                                    • Figure 19: healthy dining behaviors, December 2018
                                                  • Cater to the unique health needs of diners across ages
                                                    • Figure 20: healthy dining motivators, by age, December 2018
                                                  • Healthy menu items draw in parents
                                                    • Figure 21: healthy dining motivators, by parental status & gender, December 2018
                                                • Attitudes towards Healthy Menu Items

                                                  • Almost three fourths of parents are dissatisfied with kids meal options
                                                      • Figure 22: attitudes towards healthy menu items, December 2018
                                                    • Young men question the value of plant-based items
                                                      • Figure 23: attitudes towards healthy menu items, by age and gender, December 2018
                                                    • Younger generations associate shared menu items with healthiness
                                                      • Figure 24: attitudes towards healthy menu items, by generation, December 2018
                                                    • Parents are willing to pay for organic ingredients
                                                      • Figure 25: attitudes towards healthy menu items, by parental status by gender, December 2018
                                                  • Healthy Attributes Sought

                                                    • Diners prioritize protein
                                                      • Figure 26: healthy attributes sought, December 2018
                                                    • Creating appealing healthy menu items
                                                      • Figure 27: TURF analysis – Healthy attributes, December 2018
                                                    • Diet restrictions are important to older diners
                                                      • Figure 28: healthy attributes sought, by generation, December 2018
                                                    • Play up high protein offering to attract men
                                                      • Figure 29: healthy attributes sought, by age and gender, December 2018
                                                  • Interest in Healthy Menu Items

                                                    • A wide range of healthy menu items appeal to diners
                                                      • Figure 30: interest in healthy menu items, December 2018
                                                    • iGens most likely to seek plant-based menu items
                                                      • Figure 31: interest in healthy menu items, by generation, December 2018
                                                    • Appeal to parents with low-sugar alcoholic beverages
                                                      • Figure 32: interest in healthy menu items, by parental status, December 2018
                                                    • Hispanic diners interested in avocado as an add-on
                                                      • Figure 33: interest in healthy menu items, by race and Hispanic origin, December 2018
                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                    • Data sources
                                                      • Consumer survey data
                                                        • Abbreviations and terms
                                                          • Abbreviations
                                                          • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                            • Methodology
                                                                • Figure 34: Table - TURF analysis – Healthy attributes, December 2018