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Calorie counts on menus are influencing food choices

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Calorie labelling on menus has influenced people’s out-of-home food choices with new research revealing that half of consumers (49%) would change their selection if they felt the menu showed it was too calorific.

According to Food Insights 22, a report by CGA by Nielsen IQ, nearly two in three of those people would switch if their dish contained more than 1,000 calories, with 48% choosing another option and 33% going for a smaller portion.

Similar numbers say they would prioritise a starter (39%) or dessert (36%) to go with their main when tracking calories and reducing courses.

The report comes six months after the government introduced mandatory calorie labelling for businesses with more than 250 employees.

The report also found that consumers are split on their views of calories as a choice factor – between those who sometimes or almost always track them (46%) and those who rarely or never monitor them (54%). Consumers aged 18 to 34 are nearly twice as likely to pay attention to calorie information than those aged 55 or over, with one in six (15%) now following a calorie-controlled diet, compared to just 8% of those aged over 55.

Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “Our report shows how crucial it is for suppliers and operators to understand the ways calorie labelling affects consumers’ decision-making.

“Venues need to find the right range of low-calorie food and drink options to appeal to those who watch their calories carefully, without compromising choices for those who have no interest in doing so. Menu design and communications—both physical and digital—are crucial too, and suppliers have a big role to play in supporting operators’ strategies.”

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