NPD Report: Consumers looking for quality healthy options, won’t pay more for healthy items

Seventy percent of adults over 50 say they won't pay more for healthy options.

According to a new NPD Report entitled “Consumers Define Healthy Eating When They Go Out To Eat,” consumers are finally recognizing the industry’s efforts to promote healthy eating, but they aren’t willing to pay more for healthy options.

The report finds that when asked if consumers would be willing to pay more for healthful items at locations they visited often, 70% percent of adults over 50 says no; 25% say they would pay somewhat more; and only 5% say they would pay a lot more.

Younger adults appear more willing to pay more for healthful items, with 44% of those aged 18 to 24 saying they would expect prices for healthful items to be the same as other items, 41% saying they would expect to pay a little more and 15% saying they would expect to pay a lot more.

Survey respondents also say that they would feel more satisfied after restaurant visits if they had more healthful options available at the same prices as less healthful options, including items on the value menu.

"One of the key takeaways from the study results is that pricing of the healthy options needs to be consistent with pricing of other choices on the menu," Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst and author of the report, says in a press release. "The market for health today is growing and there is a good opportunity for operators who find a way to offer healthier options at lower price points."

Another aspect of the report looked at calorie counts and how posting those affects consumers healthy menu item purchases. According to the press release, respondents were asked to indicate items they would order from two versions of a typical fast food hamburger restaurant menu. Their first exposure was to a typical menu board without calorie information. Their second exposure was to the same menu board but with calorie counts shown alongside the price of each item. The before and after ordering patterns were then compared.

After viewing the menu with the calories posted, consumers ordered items that amounted to fewer calories, however the difference in calories was little. The average number of calories ordered when nutritional information was posted was 901, compared to 1,021 when calories were not posted. The report also found that consumers ordered about the same number of items when calories were posted. They ordered, on average, 3.3 items when calories weren't posted, versus 3.2 items when they were.

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