Food & Ingredient Transparency in Restaurants
Eating out is very common these days. It almost seems more people now prefer to eat out rather than visiting the supermarket aisles looking for home-cooked food ingredients.
Because people’s eating habits have changed rather significantly over the last few years, so have behavioural patterns. There was a time when consumers were obsessed over the nutritional information presented on food packaging but these days the focus seems to be more directed towards restaurant and takeaway menus nutrition data, seeking allergens along with where the food is sourced.
Everyday new lasting and trusting relationships are being formed between restaurants and customers due to the transparency of their menus.
Ingredient transparency and why it’s crucial to incorporate it into your kitchen
Food transparency is extremely important as it’s a way of being open and honest with customers about where the food is sourced from, as well as what’s actually included within each dish on the menu. These days’ people are seeking ingredient transparency due to various reasons such as allergy, diet & health concerns and even ecological factors.
How much input you give to food transparency will vary from restaurant to restaurant, some may offer things such as calorie counts as well as a whole host of other dietary facts on their websites whereas others may go as far as stating background information with regards to the source and living conditions of the poultry they serve.
There are no set rules in relation to how much information you choose to provide but transparency with regards to the following reasons, are generally the most sought after:
- Allergies This is the most common and for a good reason as allergies with food can be extremely dangerous so it’s vitally important that restaurants clearly state where things such as nuts, eggs, soy, wheat, milk and shellfish are included in order to protect consumers from harm and allowing them to enjoy your menu with peace of mind.
- Ingredients – Some people prefer to have transparency when it comes to fresh and wholesome ingredients, and if the information is visible, it helps to build lasting, trusting relationships. In fact, a lack of transparency can be regarded as quite off-putting for customers today, this could lead to losing customers to your competitors who perhaps explain things more clearly on their menus.
- Health & Diet – Many people seek food transparency for diet and health purposes. For this reason, they may opt for the dish with the lowest calorie count, this could be an opportunity to step up on ‘healthier options’ and try to reduce the calorie count within some of your dishes. Some people may be seeking the salt amounts, especially with conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, so having this info clearly displayed will help to simplify things and keep clients happy.
Where to begin with food transparency?
If you wish to be more transparent within your food business, here are some things you could do today to get you on the right track.
- Have a list of all the ingredients that are included on your menu so that you can present it upon request.
- Allergens – These should be clearly marked and visible at all times. This is such an important health issue to consider. All staff members should also know about which or if any allergen is presented on the dishes they serve.
- Nutritional info – Either on your menu, Facebook page or website, you should have this info available to your customers. Health-conscious and dieters may wish to see this info before ordering and not always have the courage to ask, so it’s better to have it visible instead so that you do not lose potential customers.
- Locally sourced produce – Clients may wish to see if the produce is locally or even ethically sourced and having this info available is a big plus sign for business.