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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 and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Definition

This Report examines consumer attitudes, behaviors, and trends toward eating healthy at restaurants. It explains how restaurants are menuing healthy items using Mintel’s Menu Insights (MMI) database. It also examines how restaurants provide healthy foods to consumers and how that impacts consumer trust toward health trends, how consumers feel about eating healthy, and trends toward functional health ingredients. The Report also defines how the very perception of health is changing in this country. While health trends in retail food (ie grocery store food) will be touched upon, retail food is not the focus of this Report.

To learn more about overarching trends in health and fitness please look to Mintel’s Health and Wellbeing Reports. This Report builds upon Healthy Dining Trends – US, March 2017, along with iterations going back to 2009.

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

  • QSRs (quick-service restaurants) – Used interchangeably with “fast food,” QSRs specialize in inexpensive, convenient meals. There is no waiter service, no alcoholic beverages, and a low price point. Examples include: McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Pizza Hut.
  • Fast casual restaurants – These establishments are characterized by a higher price point than QSRs though not as high as full-service restaurants. Fast casuals do not offer waiter service and may or may not serve alcohol. Examples include: Chipotle, Panera Bread, Shake Shack, and Blaze Pizza.
  • LSRs (limited-service restaurants) – These establishments provide food services where customers usually select and order items and pay before dining. Food/drink may be consumed on the premises, offered as carryout, or delivered to the customer’s location. These may also sell alcoholic beverages. LSRs include both QSRs and fast casual restaurants. The “other” category within LSRs (as seen in the Market Size and Forecast) includes snacks and non-alcoholic beverage bars, cafeterias, grills, and grill buffets.
  • FSRs (full-service restaurants) – These establishments have waiter/waitress service in which customers order and are served while seated. These may also sell alcoholic beverages and offer carryout services and include the restaurant segments: midscale, casual dining, and fine dining.
  • MMI (Mintel Menu Insights) – MMI is a quarterly census of restaurant brands covering all commercial segments and US census regions/divisions, with trends going back to Q2 2004. MMI tracks more than 30 unique menu item attributes including flavor, preparation (physical and/or cooking), menu type/section, cuisine type, menu claims, etc, grouped into six major categories from macro restaurant, menu, plate, item dish, and beverage to micro ingredient detail.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Diana Kelter, 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.

Consumers are no longer satisfied by the basics when it comes to ordering a healthy dish at a restaurant; unique, flavor-driven dishes are becoming the norm. Highlighting ingredient quality gives even indulgent dishes, like pizza and burgers, a halo of health. Younger consumers are being impacted by this trend and they are finding it increasingly difficult to identify healthy items on a menu, compared to older generations. This is leading more food and beverages to feature specific functional benefits that can clearly guide consumers toward healthy eating decisions that fit their lifestyle. Diana Kelter
Foodservice Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Cost is a leading barrier for eating healthy food
            • Figure 1: Health barriers, November 2017
          • iGens have a blurred view of health
            • Figure 2: Health barriers, by iGens and Millennials, November 2017
          • The opportunities
            • Restaurants need to focus on flavor and innovation when it comes to healthy offerings
              • Figure 3: Motivators for eating healthy, November 2017
            • Functional benefits gain attention from younger consumers
              • Figure 4: Interest in functional benefits, by iGens and Millennials, November 2017
            • Hispanics and Black consumers trust restaurants when it comes to health
              • Figure 5: Healthy dining attitudes, by Hispanic origin and Black consumers, November 2017
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Retailers and meal kits aim to make cooking at home a breeze
                • Social media adds aspirational elements to healthy eating
                  • Kids’ meals slowly start to evolve
                  • Market Perspective

                    • The simplification of cooking healthy food at home
                      • Meal kits cater to specific diet trends
                        • Retail strives to make eating healthy as convenient as takeout
                            • Figure 6: Purchase intent for select Trader Joe’s products, January 2018
                        • Market Factors

                          • Health is in the eye of the beholder
                            • A “filtered” view toward health: the social media impact
                              • Kids’ menus slowly adapt to new health trends
                              • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                                • Health is not one size fits all for different restaurant segments
                                  • Cost can hold consumers back
                                    • Workout, then brunch…
                                    • What’s Working by Segment

                                        • QSRs approach health indirectly
                                          • Fast casuals lead in trends
                                            • FSRs need to focus on the dining out occasion
                                              • Specialty beverage operators: coffee/tea shops and smoothie/juice bars
                                              • What’s Struggling?

                                                • Affordability can make health feel out of reach for many
                                                  • Figure 7: Cost as a barrier to healthy eating, by HH income, November 2017
                                              • What’s Next?

                                                • Integrated health
                                                • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                  • Heart health has broad consumer reach
                                                    • A majority of consumers are not overwhelmed by health trends
                                                      • Personal motivation is important for both men and women
                                                      • Restaurant Visitation and the Healthy Perspective

                                                        • QSRs drive mainstream visitation, primarily due to availability and affordability
                                                          • Figure 8: Restaurant visitation, November 2017
                                                        • Smoothie/juice shops drive functional trends
                                                          • Figure 9: Restaurant visitation, by health benefit interest, November 2017
                                                        • Urban environments have increased exposure to both indulgence and health
                                                          • Figure 10: Restaurant visitation, by location, November 2017
                                                      • Generational Views toward Health

                                                        • A deeper look into iGens and Millennials
                                                          • Figure 11: Restaurant visitation, by iGens and Millennials, November 2017
                                                          • Figure 12: Health barriers, by iGens and Millennials, November 2017
                                                          • Figure 13: Interest in functional benefits, by iGens and Millennials, November 2017
                                                          • Figure 14: Motivators for eating healthy, by iGens and Millennials, November 2017
                                                        • A deeper look at consumers 42+ (Generation X, Baby Boomers, World War II/Swing Generation)
                                                          • Figure 15: Restaurant visitation, by Gen X, Baby Boomers, and World War II/Swing Generation, November 2017
                                                          • Figure 16: Healthy statement agreement, “I pay attention to sodium levels when dining out,” by generation X, Baby Boomers, and World War II/Swing Generation, November 2017
                                                        • Finding common ground across generations
                                                          • Figure 17: Interest in functional benefits, heart health, by generations, November 2017
                                                          • Figure 18: Healthy statement agreement, “restaurants should be more transparent about their ingredients and preparation methods,” by generations, November 2017
                                                          • Figure 19: Motivator for eating healthy, “Healthy items beyond salads,” by generations, November 2017
                                                      • Healthy Dining Attitudes

                                                        • Transparency and quality are key expectations among consumers
                                                          • Figure 20: Healthy dining attitude, November 2017
                                                        • Hispanics and Black consumers feel the pressure of health trends
                                                          • Figure 21: Healthy dining attitude, by Hispanic origin and Black consumers, November 2017
                                                      • Interest in Functional Benefits

                                                        • Specialized health benefits gain traction
                                                          • Figure 22: Interest in functional benefits, November 2017
                                                        • Women seek broader sources for healthy fats compared to men
                                                          • Figure 23: Interest in functional benefits, by gender, November 2017
                                                        • Hispanics prefer to have benefits clearly highlighted
                                                          • Figure 24: Interest in functional benefits, by Hispanic origin, November 2017
                                                      • Motivators for Eating Healthy

                                                        • A basic salad just won’t cut it anymore
                                                          • Figure 25: Motivators for eating healthy, November 2017
                                                        • Diners are open to trying veggies in new ways, but not necessarily to replace a burger
                                                            • Figure 26: Motivators for eating healthy by restaurant segment, November 2017
                                                          • Personal motivation is not one in the same for men and women
                                                              • Figure 27: Motivators for eating healthy, by gender, November 2017
                                                            • Urban consumers put the pressure on restaurants to gain their interest
                                                              • Figure 28: Motivators for eating healthy, by location, November 2017
                                                          • Health Barriers

                                                            • Cost and availability are key barriers to health
                                                              • Figure 29: Health barriers, November 2017
                                                            • Cost is an increased concern for families
                                                              • Figure 30: Health barriers, by parental status, November 2017
                                                            • Indulgent offerings are more convenient, despite more health variety
                                                              • Figure 31: Health barriers, by location, November 2017
                                                          • Price Analysis: Grain Bowls

                                                            • Methodology
                                                              • Customization is key for grain bowls when it comes to pricing
                                                                • Figure 32: Price sensitivity – Price summary table, December 2017
                                                                • Figure 33: Price sensitivity, medium grain bowl – Optimal price, December 2017
                                                                • Figure 34: Price sensitivity, medium grain bowl – Threshold prices, December 2017
                                                                • Figure 35: Price sensitivity, medium grain bowl with organic grass-fed steak – Optimal price, December 2017
                                                                • Figure 36: Price sensitivity, medium grain bowl with organic grass-fed steak – Threshold prices, December 2017
                                                            • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                              • Data sources
                                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                                  • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                    • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                      • Appendix – Price Sensitivity Analysis

                                                                          • Figure 37: Price sensitivity, medium grain bowl – Price sensitivity aggregate table, December 2017
                                                                          • Figure 38: Price sensitivity, Medium grain bowl with organic grass-fed beef – Price sensitivity aggregate table, December 2017