Restaurants refocusing on health

The Lempert Report
August 04, 2014

We believe supermarkets should closely monitor the growing health image of eateries.

According to a recent study, restaurants will be making menus healthier in 2014  to help achieve higher forecasted growth rates – particularly focusing on locally sourced items, cleaner ingredients and value products. 

The 2014 U.S. Foodservice Study by L.E.K. Consulting states that these health-driven decisions are being made against this backdrop:  74% of senior foodservice executives expect growth rates over the next three years will outpace the prior three, yet 60% believe the positive effects will be tempered by higher prices from the anticipated takeover of US Foods by Sysco. 

According to the study already, 56% of operators surveyed have changed or are changing menu items to include gluten free. Furthermore we will most likely see  vegetarian or vegan (52%) and all natural choices (51%) leading a variety of health-skewed options.

Given that restaurant menus often dictate consumer expectations for tastes, variety and ingredients in supermarket prepared foods for takeout, we believe supermarkets should  closely monitor the growing health image of eateries – and mimic with their own spin that makes dishes distinctive. 

One reason why restaurants are changing, we think, is to avoid the “veto vote” from someone in a group of potential diners who requires a healthy choice, but sees no satisfactory choice on the menu.  That same person may well be the chief household shopper the supermarket needs to please as well.  In our view, it would be a wasted opportunity for grocers to give restaurants room to encroach on the health images they’ve worked so hard to establish.