Nine out of 10 people demand truth about food when eating out
Restaurants and canteens encouraged to take lead in better labelling
Results of the World Menu Report released today show that nine out of 10 consumers are demanding more information about food when eating out of home*. Despite international agreement on the importance of eating healthily, poor levels of information were cited as a significant barrier to leading a healthier lifestyle.
The study, conducted by Unilever Food Solutions, highlights the growing need for the food service industry to provide increased transparency for consumers about what’s in their food, where the food has been sourced and the safety of the food, helping people make informed meal decisions out of home.
Nine out of 10 people surveyed in non-Western countries - and the clear majority in Western countries - expressed a desire for further information to be made available when eating out in order to allow them to make healthier lifestyle choices. Up to 87% of respondents claimed they would make healthier decisions when choosing what to eat if they were provided with nutritional values.
The top three things people wanted to know when eating out was the source of the food, how it was prepared and the nutritional value of the food. In addition, around two-thirds of respondents said that food labels including low fat, low salt and calorie content would be a welcome addition to the menu. Currently, the desired nutritional information appears to be lacking in all surveyed countries.
The findings also revealed that consumers globally are not in agreement when it comes to the way this information should be conveyed. International cultural differences suggest that messaging could be delivered through a variety of channels.
The launch of the global authority report forms part of the Unilever Food Solutions brand rejuvenation, identifying the first key industry issue to be addressed by chefs, caterers and the foodservice industry as a whole. Key players in the global food industry have the responsibility to provide greater transparency about what goes into the food they create and in turn hand the power of choice back to the guest.
Ria van der Maas, Global Nutritionist for Unilever Food Solutions, says, “Over recent years we have seen a boom in fast and convenience food. With this has come significant concern regarding the nutritional impact of modern eating habits. The results of this research clearly demonstrate that there is a global need for greater transparency around nutritional information when eating out of the home to empower consumers to make healthier choices.”
Says Eelco Camminga, Vice President of Unilever Food Solutions for South Africa, the Middle East and Pakistan, “It’s the responsibility of food service professionals to be more transparent with consumers about what goes into their food. At Unilever Food Solutions, we aim to help chefs and caterers simplify what goes into food and keep their recipes fresh and exciting.”
“Improved food information offers the food service industry a route to renewed growth following a turbulent period for the world market. Satisfying consumer demand for greater nutritional information offers a clear opportunity to generate growth in challenging conditions,” says Camminga.
The brand rejuvenation reflects Unilever Food Solutions’ new vision – to support chefs and caterers in satisfying their guests with inspiring, healthy, nutritious food. Working closely with chefs and caterers in 74 countries Unilever Food Solutions offers culinary and nutritional inspiration for restaurants and canteens around the world. Through its expertise and continuous innovation Unilever Food Solutions helps chefs deliver nutritionally balanced, tasty meals that consumers can feel good about.
Gaby Vreeken, President Marketing, Unilever Food Solutions, says, “The World Menu Report has highlighted a clear message to those of us within the food service industry. We need to work together with our partners to address the issue through providing comprehensive advice and information about our ingredients. In the UK, for example, Unilever Food Solutions delivers nutritionally analysed, tasty, simple-to-follow recipes and culinary training for kitchen staff in schools across the country (further examples available on request).
According to Craig Elliott, Executive Head Chef of Unilever Food Solutions in South Africa, the Middle East and Pakistan, “Through our global nutritional expertise and research, we aim to support foodservice professionals in South Africa by providing them with detailed nutritional information on our products, delivering training to the different channels within the industry, and utilising the services of our country nutritionist to provide advice on nutritional issues. Globally, with our team of highly skilled chefs and nutritionists, we help our customers to find the right balance of great tasting and nutritious food served up to the same consistently high standards.”
Commenting on the relevance of these global findings to the South African contract catering environment, David Keir, Executive Chef of Fedics, says, “We have seen an increase in awareness of the nutritional values of meals served in staff restaurants and increased demand by companies in the corporate sector to provide their staff with healthier alternatives. We have certain clients who take their responsibility to provide nutritionally balanced meals very seriously, and who understand the direct link between healthy eating and improved performance. Fedics pioneered transparency of nutritional information through our Lifestyles programme, which was launched many years ago and is still in operation, providing a nutritional breakdown of certain dishes on the menu, allowing our customers to make informed choices when eating in our restaurants. We will be relaunching this programme this year.”
David van Staden, Brand Chef for Southern Sun, who is currently involved in extensive investigation into the impending Consumer Protection Act and Labelling Act, and how the Acts will impact on the labelling of foods served in hotel restaurants, says, “Legislation aside, I believe it’s about time the world moved towards more transparency in nutritional information. Global research shows an alarming increase in the number of people who are picking up allergens in their food. A case in point is the peak in sesame and nut allergens among Australians. If this is happening First World countries, it’s even more imperative that we deal with issues of food labelling proactively in Africa. It’s essential that the industry becomes more educated on nutrition in order to respond proactively to the global call for consumers to know what’s in their food, as highlighted in the research conducted by Unilever Food Solutions.”
Vreeken concludes, “We hope these findings will be just the first step in encouraging the food service industry to engage in the debate around food transparency. Working together to find an answer to this growing problem must result in improved global awareness and a chance to galvanise the food industry into action. We must remember that the choices we make are shaped by the choices we have – and as part of the food industry we must give our customers what they want. In this way we can achieve both our commercial goals and help our customers to satisfy their guests with healthy, nutritious and great-tasting food.”
For a copy of the full World Menu Report findings, please contact the UFS Global Press Office on 44 (0) 20 8870 6777 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Based on findings of a BrainJuicer survey conducted amongst 3500 global respondents who eat out at least once a week from seven countries: US, UK, China, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Turkey.