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What do consumers really think about calories on menus?

What do consumers really think about calories on menus?

New research shows calorie labelling legislation, is likely to influence a significant number of customer’s choices in terms of what they eat (57%) with 43% of consumers saying they’d be more likely to select a restaurant with calorie labelling on the menu.

On 6th April 2022, calorie labelling on menus became mandatory for operators in England with over 250 employees. The government legislation requires operators to provide calories for individual menu items and display the statement ‘adults need around 2000 kcal a day’. The law is part of a wider government strategy to tackle obesity and promote healthy eating.

Now the legislation has come into force, Vita Mojo commissioned a UK-wide consumer survey to better understand how much consumers care about calorie labelling. Here, we explore the results and what it means for the industry.

68% of consumers feel the new legislation is a ‘good’ move

Despite criticism from both the industry and eating disorder campaigners and charities, the trend for transparency is being driven by consumers, with 68% believing the legislation is a good move. While the government is focused on public health, consumers do want greater transparency from the brands they buy from – 57% said calorie count would impact their food orders, while 43% said they’d be more likely to choose a restaurant with calorie labelling on the menu.

The trend for transparency is not a new fad, it’s been growing for a long time. For more than a decade now, legislation has been in force in America. As we evolve globally, operators need to adapt and acknowledge this goes beyond legislation.

What do your customers want to know?

The survey revealed that by making nutritional information readily available, you’ll empower customers to make the right choices for them and could see loyalty and satisfaction increase as a result:

Half of your customers track their calories

  • 48% actively keep track of the calories that they consume

Gen Z is more focused on tracking calories

  • 32% of Gen Z say they track calories to a great extent, compared to just 23% of millennials.

Both men and women track calories

  • 70% of men track their calorie intake, similar to 75% of women.

Consumers living in urban areas are more influenced by calories

  • 55% of those living in urban areas say they are more likely to choose a restaurant with calorie labelling on the menu, compared to 35% in rural areas.
  • 49% of those living in urban areas say they are more likely to return to a restaurant that offers calorie labelling, compared to 37% in rural areas.
  • 66% of those living in urban areas say calorie labelling is likely to influence what items they choose, compared to 52% in rural areas.

Nutritional transparency beyond calorie labelling

  • 36% of consumers want to see other nutritional information like salt, sugar and fat content
  • 39% want to see dietary information including gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan

Empowering customers to make the right meals for their needs

Arguably the trend towards transparency is only going to accelerate with the introduction of the calorie labelling legislation. While it currently only applies to larger businesses, operators across the industry should be proactive in thinking about how the changes might affect consumer expectations. If large operators are offering this information, it’s likely that customers might come to expect this from smaller restaurants, cafes and takeaways. Operators who are not agile enough to respond might run the risk of losing out which could affect your bottom line. Proactively providing the information consumers want now, irrespective of whether or not you need to, sets you apart from the competition.

Future-proofing your business

With the legislation coming into effect and consumer demand for transparency growing, now is a great opportunity to review your tech stack and explore how you can use digital to streamline your operations. Back in 2015 when we opened the first totally digital and cashless QSRs in the UK, our aim was to put nutrition information at the heart of our concept. However indulgent, calorie counts were clearly displayed at the point of sale for every item. We wanted our customers to be able to create a delicious meal that met their individual preferences, goals or health needs. We built Vita Mojo to make it as easy as possible to update and display your nutritional information digitally. Today, this functionality is used by restaurants like YO!, LEON and Nando’s to take their customer experience to the next level.

Having a flexible digital ordering system can help you provide nutritional information without adding too much work for your staff:

  • Unrivalled menu transparency
  • Easily update calories in one ‘master menu’
  • Save staff time with updates made just once and pushed across your channels – including delivery platforms like Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats
  • Provide clear dietary tags, detailed nutritional information, calorie counts and more across your digital channels.
  • Automatically display calories for deals and customisations 

If you’d like some extra guidance, download our Calorie labelling guide to find out how to prepare and stay ahead of the curve.