The findings are part of Technomic's ongoing examination of items being added to leading independent and chain restaurant menus, which are collected quarterly and are available on Technomic's searchable online MenuMonitor database.
"Dieting consumers don't always view restaurants as a safe place to eat, either because they don't recognize diet-compatible options, or are too tempted to indulge themselves when eating out," says Technomic Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. "However, the number of healthful dishes offered at restaurants continues to grow, and operators are increasingly interested in touting healthy benefits on their menus."
The number of times "low fat" was used to describe menu items has increased by 33 percent over last year, while the incidence of "fat free" and/or "non-fat" have gone up by 12 percent. The phrase "no sugar" has increased by 51 percent, year over year. And though it's used much less often than these other healthful adjectives, "low-calorie" is on 154 percent more menus than last year.
Some of the new better-for-you items added to menus include:
- Starbucks' new Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon & White Cheddar breakfast sandwich.
- Romano's Macaroni Grill "Lite" menu additions such as Chicken Spiedini, Pollo Caprese, and Warm Spinach and Shrimp Salad.
- Abuelo's Skinny Margaritas, promising "fabulous flavor with half the calories of a regular margarita."
- Jack In The Box's line of fat-free smoothies in strawberry-banana, mango and strawberry varieties.
- Sonic Drive-Ins' new apple slices are served with fat free caramel dipping sauce.
Technomic's online MenuMonitor database provides instant access to menus from over 2,000 restaurants globally. Subscribers can search by menu items, mealpart, specific ingredients and more, and apply powerful trend-tracking tools. To learn more, please contact Patrick Noone at 312-506-3852 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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