Description

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the U.S Healthy Dining Trends, including the behaviors, preferences and habits of the consumer.

The number of consumers who make healthy choices when dining out has been growing in recent years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift in ordering habits. The desire for comforting meals in uncertain times is driving down rates of both healthy and balanced dining while indulgent orders are on the rise. Additionally, lockdown orders and social distancing measures have led to more frequent ordering from QSRs, where consumers are least likely to seek healthy options. Still, consumer interest in healthy swaps, from plant-based proteins to low-carb veggie options, has held steady throughout 2020, and increased demand for better-for-you options is likely to continue moving forward.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our U.S Food market research.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and healthy dining.
  • Recessionary and recessionary recovery impacts on healthy dining behaviors.
  • Customization is key for pleasing healthy diners with a wide array of preferences.
  • Sustainable practices increasingly important for consumers conscious of both physical and environmental health.

Covered in this report

Brands featured: Blue Apron, WW (formerly Weight Watchers), Chick-fil-A, California Pizza Kitchen, Einsten Bros. Bagels, Denny’s, True Food Kitchen, Chipotle, Starbucks, Peet’s, Violife, Yum Brands and more.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Karen Formanski, 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.

In recent years the percentage of diners making healthy choices has grown, and the majority of consumers who order from restaurants continue to select healthy menu items at least some of the time. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a decline in balanced dining, with more consumers going the direction of both stricter and more indulgent eating habits. Moving forward, interest in better-for-you menu options is expected to continue, with parents and Millennials pushing for nutritious options that are both tasty and affordable.

Karen Formanski
Health and Nutrition Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: foodservice industry market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and limited service eating places*, at current prices, 2015-25
    • Impact of COVID-19 on healthy dining
      • Figure 2: Short, medium and long term impact of COVID-19 on healthy dining, March 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Balanced dining takes a hit
      • Figure 3: Healthy dining segmentation, December 2018, January 2020 and January 2021
    • Fast food operators have the biggest opportunity to reach healthy diners
      • Figure 4: Likelihood of choosing healthy options by locations where food/meals purchased, January 2021
    • Appealing to parents with healthy choices for the whole family can lead to brand loyalty
      • Figure 5: Changes in healthy dining, by parental status, January 2021
    • Plant-based options are no longer optional
      • Figure 6: Interest in plant-based menu items, January 2021
    • Sustainable practices don a health halo
      • Figure 7: Interest in sustainability claims, January 2021
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Balanced dining falls by the wayside
    • Price point remains an obstacle
    • Operators finding new paths to diners’ plates
  4. Impact of COVID-19 on Healthy Dining

      • Figure 8: Short, medium and long term impact of COVID-19 on healthy dining, July 2020
    • Lockdown
    • Re-emergence
    • Recovery
    • COVID-19: US context
    • Learnings from the last recession
  5. Market Factors

    • Policies mandate healthier options for kids
    • Financial troubles lead to decreased healthy choices
      • Figure 9: Changes in healthy eating, by financial situation, January 2021
    • Personal and environmental health go hand in hand
  6. Market Opportunities

    • Fast casual chains pivot to find healthy diners in new places
      • Figure 10: Just Salad Housemade Meal Kit promotion
    • Develop healthy relationships
      • Figure 11: Farmer’s Fridge/Dunkin’ promotion
  7. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Meal kits exemplify freshness, healthy choices
    • Give people more ways to eat their veggies
  8. Competitive Strategies

    • Meal kits keep it fresh
      • Figure 12: Likelihood of choosing healthy options by locations where food/meals purchased, January 2021
    • Healthy options for every lifestyle
    • Offer more plants to the people
      • Figure 13: Ads for menu items featuring plant-based meat alternatives
      • Figure 14: Ads for vegetable-focused menu items
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Most diners want healthy options…at least some of the time
    • COVID-19 causes some diners to lose balance
    • Fast food venues have potential to influence ordering habits
    • Say yes to substitutions
    • Plant-based options are no longer niche
    • Better for you, better for the planet
  10. Healthy Dining Segmentation

    • COVID-19 leads to decline in balanced dining
      • Figure 15: Healthy dining segmentation, December 2018, January 2020 and January 2021
    • Perception of healthy choices varies by gender
      • Figure 16: Healthy dining segmentation, by gender, January 2021
    • Millennials, parents represent healthiest diners
      • Figure 17: Healthy dining segmentation, by generation, January 2021
      • Figure 18: Healthy dining segmentation, by parental status, January 2021
    • Price, accessibility are major barriers to healthy dining
      • Figure 19: Healthy dining segmentation, by household income, January 2021
      • Figure 20: Healthy dining segmentation, by area, January 2021
  11. Changes in Healthy Dining

    • Pandemic influences a shift away from healthy dining
      • Figure 21: Changes in healthy eating, January 2020-21
    • Focus on parents now for loyalty later
      • Figure 22: Changes in healthy eating, by parental status, January 2021
      • Figure 23: Healthy foods for kids
    • Shift in dining choices varies by gender
      • Figure 24: Changes in healthy eating, by gender, January 2021
  12. Changes in Restaurant Ordering Habits by Menu Item

    • Healthy diners more focused on main meals
      • Figure 25: Changes in restaurant ordering habits by menu item, January 2021
      • Figure 26: Ads for healthy snacks and cocktails
  13. Purchase Locations

    • Fast food restaurants visited by majority of consumers
      • Figure 27: Locations where food/meals purchased, January 2021
    • Likelihood of making healthy choices shifts depending on location
      • Figure 28: Likelihood of choosing healthy options by locations where food/meals purchased, any likely NET, January 2021
  14. Interest in Healthy Menu Options

    • Offering customizable menu items can put diners in control of their health
      • Figure 29: Interest in healthy menu options, January 2021
    • Flexible options needed to please a variety of preferences
      • Figure 30: Interest in healthy menu options, by gender and age, January 2021
    • Offer easy swaps to please the masses
      • Figure 31: TURF analysis – Interest in healthy menu options, January 2021
  15. Interest in Plant-based Menu Items

    • Broaden the scope of plant-based offerings
      • Figure 32: Interest in plant-based menu items, January 2021
      • Figure 33: Interest in plant-based menu items, by healthy dining segmentation, January 2021
    • Variety is key for drawing in plant-seeking consumers
      • Figure 34: TURF analysis – Interest in plant-based menu items, January 2021
  16. Interest in Sustainability Claims

    • Ramp up locally sourced ingredients
      • Figure 35: Interest in sustainability claims, January 2021
    • Connect the dots between sustainable and healthy
      • Figure 36: Interest in sustainability claims, by healthy dining segmentation, January 2021
      • Figure 37: Interest in sustainability claims, by age, January 2021
  17. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms
  18. Appendix – The Market

      • Figure 38: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and limited service eating places*, at current prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 39: Total US sales and forecast of restaurants and limited service eating places*, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2015-25
  19. Appendix – The Consumer

    • TURF methodology
      • Figure 40: Table – TURF analysis – Interest in healthy menu options, January 2021
      • Figure 41: Table – TURF analysis – Interest in plant-based menu items, January 2021

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