Consumers are expecting more from restaurants. No longer will customers put up with frozen burger patties or chemical-laden produce - expectations are changing and brands are responding by cleaning up their menus. Today, fast-food and fast-casual chains are taking extra steps to ensure their food is free of antibiotics, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and cage-free eggs.
Understanding the ingredients that we put in our bodies has become an integral part of eating out. The NPD Group, a leading global information company, found that more than 30 percent of consumers are cautious about eating and serving foods with preservatives. That is an increase from a decade ago when only 24 percent of consumers were concerned about the quality of ingredients. This new wave of better eating is due to increased consumer access to information and a desire to educate themselves on the topic. As such, they’re taking extra time to study labels, and they’re more adept at spotting ingredients that are harmful. Ardag Tachian, vice president of development for MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes, has witnessed this firsthand amongst his brand’s customers. “Consumers are becoming more educated about their health, and they have a better sense of responsibility when it comes to nutrition. Better food at restaurants means better food for you, and MOOYAH is the better for you brand with better ingredients,” Tachian said. “Consumers today understand that a healthy and natural diet combined with moderate exercise is the key to better health and longevity.” Restaurant concepts are listening and are retooling their menus to reflect changing tastes. Chef Elliot Jablonsky, the research and development chef for Buffalo Wings & Rings, said the brand caters to consumer’s quest to eat better, while still serving classic sports restaurant menu items. The brand uses fresh, never frozen ingredients and he went on to say the brand also offers more vegetarian fare that still appeals to the sports bar crowd. Using food without modified ingredients is not only better for customers; it can help improve the industry as a whole. Brewer Stouffer, founder and owner of pizza franchise brand The Roman Candle, said having better and fresher ingredients on their menus raises more awareness throughout the rest of the industry about the need for quality food.
“Using pure ingredients is what makes us special and we feel really good about sharing these ideals with everyone,” Stouffer said. “We’re upfront about our ingredients with not only our customers, but also with our franchisees and our suppliers, which gives people more knowledge and access to eating better handcrafted food.”