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According to new research from Mintel Menu Insights, the use of "organic" on restaurant menus has declined by 28 percent from 2010 to 2013. Organic continues to be the leading ethical claim on menus, however.
"The reality is that organic foods are quite expensive and consumers are looking for alternative claims to help them determine what other types of menu items are safe and of good quality to eat. Tying into this, we are seeing a return to tried-and-true, traditional preparations, signaled by claims tied to classic, original, homemade, etc.," Julia Gallo-Torres, category manager — US foodservice, said in a news release.
While organic is in decline, gluten-free instances are appearing more frequently on restaurant menus, posting a 200-percent increase between Q4 2010-13, and accounting for 40 percent of the total growth in ingredient nutritional claims on the menu during the same time period. Meanwhile, the biggest growth in ingredient claims came from nutritional claims (up 14 percent) and geographic claims (up 12 percent).
"Many Americans look to menu information to eat better and healthier. Nutritional claims signal that certain foods can contribute to general health. In terms of geographic claims, consumers are seeking dining experiences that are more authentic and these claims also can convey a healthier presentation," Gallo-Torres said.
Mintel Menu Insights' data also found a 10-percent increase in "made from scratch" claims, as well as an increase in "original recipe," "freshly picked," "farmstead" and "farm-style."
Finally, "signature" as an ingredient marketing claim grew 34 percent in the research period
Gallo-Torres said allergen-related claims, vegetarian and vegan foods will continue to increase.
"People also want to know where their foods are coming from. Consumers will continue to look to menus for guidance on what to eat," she said.
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