One-third (31%) of consumers would eat out more if healthier options were more readily available, according to new research into the out-of-home market unveiled today by IGD. Interest in healthy eating is on the rise and so is eating out*. IGD’s research – the first of its kind into this sector – explores the links between these trends and the opportunities presented for food and drink companies.
With over two-thirds (67%) of consumers eating out at least once a week, according to IGD, and 34% claiming to do so a couple of times a week, the research examines the relevance of health on these occasions and how consumers balance nutritional aims with the desire for a treat. The research comprised an online survey of more than 9,000 people, plus qualitative tracking of consumers’ out-of-home eating experiences.
Joanne Denney-Finch, Chief Executive of IGD, said: “Our new research, the first of its kind into the out-of-home sector, focuses on two powerful trends at play in today’s market: eating out, and eating well. Eating out of home plays a significant part in the national diet and at the same time, interest in health and eating healthily is growing. Many food and drink companies already view health as a hugely important part of their strategy, but there is a clear commercial opportunity for businesses to take the lead in this area. Our findings signpost how companies can make the most of these two mega trends as they continue to come together.”
Rhian Thomas, Head of Shopper Insight at IGD, added: “Health is rarely the number one factor when people eat out and yet it widely influences behaviour and was regularly mentioned by the consumers we spoke to. Even when people are not actively seeking healthy choices, they avoid some outlets and menus viewed as too unhealthy – one-third (34%) avoid eating in certain places for this reason. Also, people may limit their eating out occasions if they associate this with over-indulgence.”
IGD’s research highlighted what it called ‘four barriers’ preventing health from having more of an influence on people when they eat out – value perceptions; confusion about messaging; the effort to pursue health; and takeaway food culture.
“Takeaway missions have the lowest explicit levels of consideration around health. However, expanded home delivery and takeaway options could shift this perception over time,” Thomas said.
“If the barriers and solutions our research identifies are tackled over time, then there are clearly huge commercial opportunities for food and drink companies looking to bring together the two powerful trends of eating out and eating well.”
We’ll have much more on this story in the February issue of Wholesale News.