“The percentage of healthy diners is growing, aligning with the increased availability of lifestyle fare, including plant-based and low-carb options. Millennials are the healthiest diners, but right behind them, Gen Z is the most indulgent generation, demonstrating the need for a balanced menu. Convenience and kid-friendliness are the deciding factors on where to eat – hallmarks of the fast food segment, which has the lowest consumer perception of being healthy. To increase the healthy quotient, operators must provide the health-forward menu items consumers most desire, including substitutions for fried items and low-carb options. “
– Amanda Topper, Associate Director – Foodservice

This Report covers the following areas:

  • Customizable options
  • Less sugar
  • Meat alternatives

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • What consumers want and why
          • The issues
            • Restaurant meals viewed not as healthy as home-cooked meals
              • Figure 1: Restaurant and at-home meal associations, January 2020
            • Cost and flavor are largest barriers to healthy eating
              • Figure 2: Reasons for eating healthfully less often, January 2020
            • Diners still want to indulge
              • Figure 3: Healthy dining behaviors, by household income, January 2020
            • The opportunities
              • Personalization is a healthy way to add variety to the menu
                • Figure 4: Healthy dining attitudes, January 2020
              • Meal kits are a home-cooked solution for healthy, affordable and tasty meals
                • Figure 5: Restaurant and at-home meal associations, January 2020
              • Substitutions give diners control over their health
                • Figure 6: Healthy item interest, January 2020
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Home-cooked meals shine
                • Millennials hugely influential for healthy dining
                  • Flexitarians drive the demand for less meat
                  • Market Perspective

                    • Home-cooked meals perceived as healthy, fresh, tasty and affordable
                      • Figure 7: Share of food expenditures for in-home food vs dining out, 2013-18
                  • Market Factors

                    • Millennials’ purchase power and healthful mindset will drive menu development
                      • Figure 8: Population by generation, 2014-24
                    • Consumers are eating less meat
                        • Figure 9: Restaurant behaviors, by gender and race/Hispanic origin, December 2019
                      • Childhood obesity calls for solutions
                        • Figure 10: Percent of children who are obese, by age, 2001-02 to 2015-16
                    • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                      • Lifestyle diets offer a menu hook
                        • Acceptance of plant-based burgers leads to adoption of other plant-based menu items
                          • Flavor innovation is lacking
                            • Newsflash: Fruits and vegetables are plants
                            • What’s Working?

                              • Diet-specific menus are part of the playbook
                                • Lifestyle diets
                                  • Superfoods expand
                                    • Plant-based grows up
                                      • Plant-based across categories
                                      • What’s Struggling?

                                        • Restaurant food is not perceived as tasty
                                          • Figure 11: Dining out priorities, August 2019
                                      • What to Watch

                                        • Fruits and vegetables take on new roles
                                          • Vegetables replace carbs
                                            • Dessert needs fruit
                                              • Figure 12: New fruit-flavored frozen novelties launched in 2019
                                            • Snacks and appetizers are ripe for innovation
                                              • Figure 13: New veggie-centric salty snacks launched in 2019
                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                            • The percentage of healthy diners is increasing
                                              • The desire to lose weight sparks healthy dining
                                                • Weekend indulgent eating is common
                                                  • Healthy eating shouldn’t come at a premium
                                                    • Fast food shines for convenience and kid-approval, but lacks healthful perceptions
                                                    • Healthy Dining Segmentation

                                                      • Consumers increasingly identify themselves as healthy diners
                                                        • Figure 14: Healthy dining segmentation, December 2018 and January 2020
                                                      • Millennials overindex as healthy diners
                                                        • Figure 15: Healthy dining segmentation, by generation, January 2020
                                                      • Parents tend to eat more healthfully when dining out
                                                        • Figure 16: Healthy dining segmentation, by parental status, January 2020
                                                      • Asians and Hispanics eat more healthfully than others
                                                        • Figure 17: Healthy dining segmentation, by race/Hispanic origin, January 2020
                                                    • Changes in Healthy Eating

                                                      • Nearly one third eating healthfully more often this year
                                                        • Figure 18: Changes in healthy eating, January 2020
                                                      • Weight loss, availability of healthy options are top healthy eating drivers
                                                        • Figure 19: Reasons for eating healthfully more often, January 2020
                                                      • Weight loss a stronger driver for women, while men are driven by health conditions
                                                        • Figure 20: Reasons for eating healthfully more often, by gender and age, January 2020
                                                      • Healthful foodservice fare has an expensive reputation to overcome
                                                        • Figure 21: Reasons for eating healthfully less often, January 2020
                                                    • Healthy Dining Behaviors

                                                      • Nearly half of diners treat themselves by dining out
                                                        • Figure 22: Healthy dining behaviors, January 2020
                                                      • Young men order the most healthfully throughout the week
                                                        • Figure 23: Healthy dining behaviors, by gender and age, January 2020
                                                      • Parenthood leads to increased dining frequency and calorie checking
                                                        • Figure 24: Healthy dining behaviors, by number of children under 18 in the household, January 2020
                                                    • Healthy Dining Attitudes

                                                      • Operators should focus on customization and nutrition information
                                                        • Figure 25: Healthy dining attitudes, January 2020
                                                      • Younger Millennials and Asians are willing to pay extra for healthy meals
                                                        • Figure 26: Healthy dining attitudes, by generation and race/Hispanic origin, January 2020
                                                      • Healthy diners expect more nutrition information and the ability to modify menu items
                                                        • Figure 27: Healthy dining attitudes, by dining segmentation, January 2020
                                                      • Millennials look for healthy meals and nutrition information
                                                        • Figure 28: Healthy dining attitudes, by generation, January 2020
                                                    • Restaurant and At-home Meal Associations

                                                      • Consumers most likely to view home-cooked meals as healthy and affordable
                                                        • Figure 29: Correspondence analysis – symmetrical map – restaurant and at-home meal associations, January 2020
                                                        • Figure 30: Restaurant and at-home meal associations, January 2020
                                                      • Older diners less likely to view any restaurant meals as healthy
                                                        • Figure 31: Restaurant and at-home meal associations, by generation, January 2020
                                                      • Older diners view casual dining restaurants as convenient, affordable, but not healthy
                                                        • Figure 32: Casual dining restaurant and at-home meal associations, by generation, January 2020
                                                      • Parents are less likely to view fast food as processed or high in sodium
                                                        • Figure 33: Fast food restaurant and at-home meal associations, by parental status, January 2020
                                                    • Healthy Item Interest

                                                      • Substitutions for fried items are most appealing
                                                        • Figure 34: Healthy item interest, January 2020
                                                      • Combine healthy options to please the most guests
                                                        • Figure 35: TURF analysis – healthy item interest, January 2020
                                                      • Young men, Hispanics and parents want to see more meat alternatives
                                                        • Figure 36: Healthy item interest, by gender and age, race/Hispanic origin and parental status, January 2020
                                                      • Hispanics are interested in healthier beverages
                                                        • Figure 37: Healthy item interest, by race/Hispanic origin, January 2020
                                                      • Millennials show the greatest interest in low-carb, vegetarian and gluten-free options
                                                        • Figure 38: Healthy item interest, by generation, January 2020
                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

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

                                                              • Methodology
                                                                • TURF Analysis
                                                                    • Figure 39: Table – TURF analysis – healthy item interest, January 2020
                                                                  • Correspondence analysis

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