Restaurants Struggle Balancing Health and Convenience

From Mintel:

Chicago (January 25, 2012)—While the restaurant industry as a whole spent 2011 in a recessionary slump, the family midscale segment has been the most negatively impacted and the next few years aren’t expected to show an upward swing. According to a recentMintel foodservice report, 80% of family restaurant-goers who are eating out less in general are doing so because of budgetary reasons. No surprise there.  Due to this and other challenges, family restaurant sales are expected to decline by 7% over the next four years. (except those that deliver a high health, high value experience).

“Playing the pricing game has not proved successful for family restaurants,” notes Eric Giandelone, foodservice director at Mintel. “Mintel believes that the greatest opportunity for the market to return to a path of growth is to employ a sustainable approach to value by promoting reasonable prices with value-added benefits like health and convenience.” 

You have to love that sort of thinking coming from a food related industry. As if they’re doing anything to add “health value” besides mitigating for the additives and preservatives which comprise 60% of the food Americans typically consume. Maybe it’s time we all started playing the “Is It Healthy?” Game instead.

The challenge for restaurant operators is that historically, “healthy” menu items don’t sell well because a healthy item often communicates “no taste.” That’s certainly been true in my experience with most franchise restaurants. A lack of creativity, understanding about food as health and a seriously flawed food supply chain won’t make up for what ails the sector. 

However, a change may be imminent. In fact, 34% of restaurant-goers say healthy food is an important factor in selecting a family restaurant. Now if they only understood a bit more about what that means and we’d have a lot more healthy options and better health outcomes.

Adding value through convenience is another approach that can benefit this segment.(Better take a look at this video showing the impacts of convenience over nutrition) While the majority (75%) of consumers enjoy the sit-down, full-service experience, families are more likely to say that service at these restaurants is typically too slow. As a result, families are more likely to save family restaurants for weekend dining, when they have more time.

“By utilizing an ‘express lunch’ concept, family midscale restaurants can attract the business crowd during the week and perhaps implement a ‘family express dinner’ where families can still enjoy their sit-down experience, but at a pace that coincides with their busy week night schedules,” adds Eric Giandelone.

A number of restaurant attributes are cited as important in selecting a family restaurant. Seventy percent of family restaurant patrons say value for their money is most important, followed by menu items they like, fresh food and convenient location (69%, 60% and 59% respectively).

When asked what family restaurant goers want to see more of on the menu, 44% said fruit as a side option, while 41% want different preparation methods, like grilling. These numbers correspond with the importance of healthy menu items being available.


About Mintel

Mintel is a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence. For 40 years, Mintel has provided insight into key worldwide trends, offering exclusive data and analysis that directly impacts client success. With offices in Chicago, New York, London, Sydney, Shanghai, Tokyo, and now India, Malaysia and Singapore, Mintel has forged a unique reputation as a world-renowned business brand. For more information on Mintel, please visit


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How To Make What’s For Lunch Stick Around For Dinner

Thanks to TEDx Manhattan’s: Changing the Way We Eat 2012 for this research video by Stephanie Bardin and Dr. Braden Kuo. These researchers have made it possible for us to take a fantastic voyage into our own digestive tracts and see in real time the impacts from the food – or what we think food is.

Once you see the difference between a lunch of blue gatorade, top ramen and gummy bears, you might not be so quick to choose convenience over nutrition next time. The good news is they show the same lunch made from all organic ingredients.  What a difference food makes. And the FDA would have us believe there’s no difference at all. See for yourself but be warned, this video changed me. The food I eat is processed  by my kitchen knives.


TEDx Manhattan: Changing The Way We Eat

In February of 2011, over 14,000 computers tuned in from locations all over the globe to watch the live simulcast of the first TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat.”

On Saturday, January 21, 2012, the second TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat” – an independently organized event, licensed by TED – was held at the Times Center in New York City. TEDxManhattan will explored the issues, the impacts and the innovations happening as we shift to a more sustainable way of eating and farming and help to create connections and unite different areas of the food movement.

Riverside’s Habitat For Humanity ReStore hosted one of 70 global, live stream viewing parties and invited Riverside’s community garden advocates, teachers, gardeners and people who love to eat healthy food to come together, get connected and be inspired about how achievable healthy, safe and delicious food really is.

The presentation by  Stephen Ritz, Edible Food Walls and How They’re Changing Students’ Lives, was truly an amazing tale of inspiration and joy. The talks are short, compelling and potentially life changing. You won’t waste your time if you take a look at some of them. WARNING!! You might not ever look at the food you eat in the same way, but then that’s the point isn’t it?

Thanks to Tedx, Habitat for Humanity and to all my friends and neighbors who will make a difference in the community because of this event.

Resolutions: All Talk And No Action?

If you’re NewYear health resolutions are already seeming more like good ideas rather than new habits being established, then you’re on track to yet another almost certain, likely future of exactly what you had at the end of last year – or maybe the years before that.  Resolutions are “big picture” possibilities. We’d like it if they became real, they’re usually a good idea, we know they’d make our lives better. If you’ve ever found yourself inspired about a ‘new you’ and soon realized you were feeling and doing all the things the ‘old you’ did, you’re not alone. It’s called being human. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

The New Year symbolizes a fresh start, and we’re all more motivated than usual—at least in our minds. The typical resolution cycle shows a steep incline in health-related goals during the first quarter of the year, followed by a rapid decline soon thereafter. We’ve all been there.

We do a lot of talking about what we plan to accomplish in the New Year, but the actual “doing” is what takes real effort. In fact, 78% of people break their resolutions because their goals are too aspirational and lofty.  Overly ambitious goals thwart the will to stick to and stay with a game plan.

Real change takes planning—if our goals are broken down into bite-size nuggets and are properly thought out, we’ll be a lot more successful at making a long-term commitment. Consider, if you’re overweight, you didn’t get that way overnight.  Don’t expect to get back overnight.  Scientists tell us weight gain is more calories consumed than burned.  True enough.  It’s the ‘consumed’ bit that matters.  It’s our actions, conscious or unconscious, in consuming that are responsible for our results.

This is particularly true as it pertains to our health and wellness plans.  When it comes to our health goals, success or failure comes from taking or not taking the discrete actions appropriate to the result. This is really good news because we’re already in action.  We breathe, move, think and feel!

Successful health-related programs can help people overcome struggles and reach their goals in incremental steps. They address the need for very targeted and specific daily goals, providing continuous motivation and short-term rewards that keep resolution-makers on track.

New Year’s resolutions are annual goals—and like all goals, they are best reached when they are measurable. There should be well- defined milestones during the year when metrics can be checked toward achievement of those goals.

The key to success in achieving our health goals is in focusing  our awareness on our behaviors in the moment. We only have right now, this moment to take action.  If we can make even very small improvements over time, we quickly build synergistic momentum as those improvements lead to expanded capacity to experience even more vibrant, energetic and radiant health.

Knowing what to do is the booby prize. If we don’t take action on what we know to do, we only have ourselves to blame for one more rationalization.  So what are you measuring today, this week, this month and this happy, healthy New Year?

Genetic Factors Linked To Only 24% Of Intelligence Changes

A new study published in the journal Nature  links 24% of our intelligence to genetic factors. That means 76% of our intelligence is determined by environmental factors.

Scientists found decades old intelligence tests done in 1940 on 11 year olds in Scotland and then retested the participants at age 65.

DNA from blood samples was collected from all 1940 people. An analysis of the genetic markers revealed various genetic similarities. Scientists compared these genetic similarities with the participants’ intelligence levels in both youth and old age.

Read more in the Wall Street Journal.

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