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How healthy eating trends can boost your business

As our industry navigates through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, health is at the forefront of everybody’s mind around the world. Food isn’t just a way of having fun or bringing people together, it’s also a way of giving our bodies what they need to function as well as possible. That’s why we’re seeing customers become savvier and more discerning when it comes to how their dining choices affects their health. Let’s explore how you can use this growing trend in healthy eating to appeal to customers and stay ahead of the curve.


Up your appeal with nutritional info on your menus

At the end of 2018, our industry saw a big shift as the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) launched an initiative so that restaurants and cafés have to display calories for their menus (1). Changes like these are to tackle preventable lifestyle diseases, a growing problem in the GCC (2). This means that your diners aren’t just looking at the names or ingredients of your dishes. Nutritional information can also play a role in how they choose what to eat. In fact, after the policy came into force, a survey found that over 60% said that menu labelling influenced what they ate and at which establishments (3).

But how can you use this to drive your business forward? First, keep nutrition in the front of your mind when designing a new menu. For example, introduce new dishes (or alternatives to your top sellers) with a lower calorie count as part of a ‘healthy section’ on your menu. This would draw attention of customers following diet plans with a restricted calorie intake. Consider switching to low fat ingredients such as the new and improved Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise which contains only 18kcal per 10 gram serving. It’s low in calories but with all the flavour to meet the dietary demands of customers.


It doesn’t all have to be low calorie, but by offering a range of lighter dishes you’ll have something to appeal to most diners. Remember, something as simple as changing a cooking method – for example, from frying to baking – for a dish can bring the calorie count right down and make your menu more appealing. For example, these baked carrot fries are still a treat, but might tempt your diner who is watching his intake.  

It’s all about nutrition diversity

When our industry has talked about health in the past, it’s been a focus on low-calorie and low-fat. Today, our customers are more discerning. Highly nutritional foods are now being prioritised much more. This is good for you creative chefs, because it means you don’t just have to think up salads! 

There is a global shift to more plant-based dishes, with the demand for vegetarian and vegan food growing, particularly for younger customers. Importers are expanding their vegan ranges and organic offerings. Try adapting parts of your menu to embrace this trend. This Vegan Cauliflower Taco recipe, showcases how classic street food can be reimagined into a plant-based treat. Transform your tried-and-tested favourites by swapping a few ingredients for popular plant-based choices like cauliflower, chickpeas or green veggies. By using a wide range of vegetables, your dishes can be colourful, healthy, and be highly nutritious in vitamins, minerals and fibre.


The next big thing: eating for immunity

There is one trend we’re hearing about over and over again, and that’s immune boosting foods. Tread carefully here. We can’t make health promises or cures to our customers – but we can appeal to their tastes and priorities. While the science linking foods and the immune system is not conclusive (4), that hasn’t stopped diners measuring up their menus to achieve a balanced diet. This has put foods rich in micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals in the culinary spotlight. Simply put: vegetables! As customers seek to manage their health, tap into this trend with plant-based dishes using the Future 50 Foods. This trend also overlaps with environmental concerns of younger audiences, so the move to plant-based is a win-win in the eyes of many consumers.


Indulging in a lighter way

While 2020 has prompted people to think about their health, it has also brought up other feelings. Many people turn to food for comfort and indulgence, particularly when they’re eating out as the world emerges from its various lockdowns. So how can we balance the demand for healthier options while still indulging? The businesses that will win here are the ones who are able to put a healthy spin on much-loved comfort foods. Think light ice creams, veggie burgers, wholesome lunch pairings or vitamin-packed stir fries and curries. These choices allow your diners to indulge, even if they are trying to eat healthily. 


COVID-19 has seen the world change, and our eating habits are no exception. As your diners eat more mindfully of their health, remain at the top of their recommendations list by building plant-based dishes into your menu. It can be as simple to offering a veggie version of your most popular main or choosing a nutritious ingredient and highlighting it in the side dish. Give a nod to these trends while still delivering excellent flavours and an enjoyable dining experience.