Diet and food sourcing concerns influences diners’ choice of eating out venue

Foodservice analyst Horizons’ latest QuickBite consumer eating out survey, conducted online by YouGov, and published this week, shows that welcome signs of recovery in Britain’s eating out market are being accompanied by concerns over food quality, the sourcing and provenance of ingredients and health and lifestyle factors. These issues are influencing where consumers choose to eat out, says Horizons.

When asked about their choice of venue or choice of menu item, 41% of QuickBite respondents who eat out said they were influenced by at least one of the health eating factors listed such as the availability of vegetarian options (15%), calorie information (14%), reduced fat choices (9%) and the availability of low-carb dishes (4%).

The 35-44 year olds and 18-24 year olds were the most likely to seek these lifestyle choices (44%), with women (47%) more concerned with health and lifestyle factors than men (43%).

Knowing the origin and provenance of main ingredients was found to be important to 56% of respondents, compared with just 42% who didn’t think it was important.

Over half of respondents (54%) welcomed changes to allergen legislation coming in at the end of 2014, which will see restaurants and other eating out establishments required to provide consumers with more detailed information about ingredients used in the dishes they serve.

“We were surprised that so many respondents cited these lifestyle factors as influencing their choice of venue, particularly as our research shows that restaurants tend to only have one or two vegetarian choices,” said

Horizons’ director of services Nicola Knight. “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 and ‘free-from’ dishes. Our survey indicates that these issues are likely to become more important, rather than less, as the eating out market improves,” added Knight.

The Horizons survey also confirms that Britain’s eating out market is stabilising in terms of frequency of eating out, with the percentage of people eating out on the increase, and currently at the same level as it was in 2010.

Over two-thirds (69%) of respondents had eaten out in the previous two weeks with those that had eaten out doing so an average of 1.8 times. The number of people eating out has risen from 68% to 69% year-on-year.

“This is good news for the UK’s foodservice sector,” commented Knight. “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.”  

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