Consumers favour healthier eating-out options

Consumers are influenced by the availability of healthier food options when choosing where to eat out, according to the latest figures.

Published in Horizons’ most recent QuickBite consumer eating-out survey, conducted online by YouGov, 41% of respondents said they were influenced by at least one of the healthy eating factors listed. This included calorie information (14%), reduced-fat choices (9%) and the availability of low-carb dishes (4%).

Knowing the origin and provenance of main ingredients was important to 56% of respondents, compared with 42% who disagreed.

Over half of respondents (54%) welcomed changes to allergen legislation, due to be introduced at the end of the year. This will see restaurants and other establishments required to provide consumers with more detailed information about the ingredients they use.

Nicola Knight, director of services, said she was surprised that so many respondents cited these lifestyle factors as influencing their choice of venue.

“We will track this trend in forthcoming surveys, but we have to ask whether eating-out establishments are currently doing enough to cater for these lifestyle concerns, particularly the apparent demand for vegetarian dishes and free-from dishes,” Knight said. “Our survey indicates these issues are likely to become more important, rather than less, as the eating-out market improves.”

Additionally, the use of cafés, including coffee shops, as eating-out destinations has grown in popularity, now at 6%, compared with 4% in December 2012.

Average spend across all outlets, including drinks, is £14.41, up from £13.30 in July 2013, but less than last year’s average spend of £14.55.

The number of people eating out has risen from 68% to 69% year-on-year, which Knight said was “good news for the UK’s foodservice sector”.

 “We should now start to see an increase in the frequency with which consumers are eating out as the economy picks up, along with a gradual increase in average spend,” she added. “Real growth will be slow, but is likely to be steady over the next 18 months.”

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