Health-conscious diners now have access to more information than ever. With a few taps and swipes, they can check menus and ingredient lists against the latest health trends and recommendations.
Prompted by the farm-to-table movement, operators are learning that being open about ingredient sources can build diners’ trust. Buzzwords like “locally sourced,” “cage free” and “grass fed” appear next to menu items regularly, and a recent study by the Mintel group found that 84% of Americans seek more natural, less-processed foods.
Transparency is key
Ingredient sourcing was the first wave in diners’ demand for transparency, so it’s only logical that patrons are now pushing for even more information about what goes into their food. Often referred to as the “clean label” movement or “free-from” foods, this trend is born from consumers who care about what their food is not as much as what it is.
The same Mintel group survey provides additional insight regarding the “free-from” and “clean label” trend. Of that survey, 59% of respondents agreed that fewer ingredients meant healthier end results, and 37% said “free-from” foods were worth a more expensive price tag. Millennials and Gen Xers are leading the charge for this movement, with 60% and 55%, respectively, weighing in as most concerned about the issue.
Start “cleaning up” with easy steps
Bringing the clean-label trend to an operation isn’t something that can be achieved overnight. It requires conversations with product distributors, access to specific “free from” products and, most importantly, time. However, there may be areas that lend themselves to clean label products and recipes more quickly than others.
Fresh, simple offerings, such as salad bars and sides, already contain clean ingredients and are an excellent place to start. Generally, salad dressings and sauces are teeming with artificial flavors and preservatives, but this means committing to clean label salads and sides can be as easy as finding natural dressing and sauce alternatives.
Get the word out
When you do make the change to clean label ingredients, be sure to let your patients and staff know. Use social media to broadcast your dedication to healthy, fresh ingredients. Showcase your commitment to clean options in your dining area and throughout the hospital, from cafeteria-counter signage and table tents to educating hospital staff about the change.
Don’t know where to start?
T. Marzetti® Foodservice now offers eight healthy, on-trend salad dressings made with simply better ingredients. Available in 32 oz. bottles, perfect for the salad bar, or convenient gallons designed for back-of-house, these refrigerated dressings are made without MSG, soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, or gluten. Visit http://www.marzettifoodservice.com/simply-dressed/ for more information.