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Healthy Menu Trends Are In!

This post originally appeared on the Swipely Blog.  Visit Swipely to find additional insights and content for restaurant operators, to help you make better decisions and grow your business.


2016 is going to be the year that healthy menu options truly take off!

Mark my words. New Year’s resolutions to “eat healthier” usually peak in January and February only to drop off somewhere around mid-March… similar to my gym attendance. (We’ve all been there before). However, it doesn’t have to be that hard to achieve your goals! Restaurantuers can keep fueling guests’ fire by adding new and exciting healthy menu options.

What Do We Mean By “Healthy”?

The term “healthy” is mentioned on 8% of menus in the United States across all meal parts, segments, and cuisine types. In terms of location, at least one “healthy” item is found at 7% of locations across the United States.

Other common terms that consumers recognize as “healthy” options are “low-fat,” “organic,” “gluten-free,” and “natural”. Across the US the terms “gluten-free” and “organic” are each found at 9% of locations.

What Does The Market For “Healthy Dishes” Look Like? 

The Fast Casual, $$ segment, has the largest market share at 52% of all “healthy” menu mentions. 70% of the items that are described as “healthy” are entrees. The average price for that “healthy” entree is $8.15.

For “organic” dishes the Casual Dining, $$$ segment, has the largest market share at 42% of all “organic” menu mentions.  39% of all “organic” items are featured as entrees. The average price for that “organic” entree is $8.96.

It may come as no surprise that “gluten-free” entree options have a higher average price of $12.12.

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What Should Be On My Menu In 2016?

VEGETABLES. Lots of ‘em!

First and foremost, the top ingredients on the plate of a “healthy” menu item are vegetables at 75% of mentions followed by proteins at 68%.

Tomato (27%), Broccoli (21%), Onion (21%), Lettuce (16%), and Pepper (15%) are the top five vegetables mentioned in “healthy” dishes. Interestingly enough tomatoes are the dominant vegetable in healthy dishes across every region of the United States except for in the Mid South region where Broccoli is featured in 25% of “healthy” menu items.

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