Once considered a trend, the shift toward incorporating clean label ingredients on your menu has become an expectation. So much information is available about health and wellness, including the important role food plays in both. Consumers are savvy and it’s becoming more common that they only want to consume foods containing natural, recognizable ingredients. many restaurants are taking notice, utilizing more high quality, organic, often local ingredients on their menus and informing customers about the food they serve. This transparency builds trust with customers, cultivating loyalty and a willingness to pay more for quality, increasing profit margins and keeping seats filled. As demands for menu transparency and natural items increase, restaurants should consider making a cultural and operational commitment to serving clean label menu options.
What is a Clean Ingredient?
In general, a clean label should be simple, familiar, all natural, and consisting of ingredients that are easy to read and pronounce. When working with pantry items, try to source some foods with no artificial additives, preservatives, GMOs, nitrates, or high fructose corn syrup. Consider purchasing meat products that are raised humanely and given no antibiotics or hormones. For produce, try to source items free of chemical or pesticides. Produce with an “organic” certification can make a significant impact for customers seeking clean, natural ingredients.
Since clean labels are subjective and based on individual opinion, operators must focus attention on all areas of their menu, including transparency and traceability. Part of the restaurant experience is learning about dishes and how they are created. Tell the story of your menu items and call out when ingredients are all-natural or organic. Bring attention to food that is locally sourced or flown in fresh. Diners appreciate the information and feel loyal to an establishment they can trust.
The good new is eating clean is profitable. Customers are happy to pay more for something they consider to be healthy and sustainable. Increased portion cost can be more than made up for by a slight increase in menu price. According to Restaurant Business, 32% of consumers say they would visit a foodservice location less often if natural ingredients aren’t used, while 20% say they would never visit again if that were the case. Meet this demand by offering a few flavor-packed menu choices made with all-natural, clean, high-quality ingredients that will keep diners satisfied and returning for more.
Enhancing Your Menu with Clean Ingredients
Making an effort to shift toward clean label menus is not as difficult as you may think, considering it is highly sought after, as well as profitable. Begin with due diligence, reviewing your menu and evaluating what items can easily be transformed into a clean offering. Your Maines Territory Manager is available as a resource and can provide you with a wide variety of clean label ingredients such as Cobblestreet MKT™ All-Natural Premium Deli Meats, Hormel™ All-Natural Pork Loin, and Sweet Street Manifesto® Desserts that are free of additives, hormones, and GMOs. Additionally, it’s important to educate your staff and use them to relay menu changes to customers, emphasizing the natural elements. Provide detailed information about ingredients and sourcing, so staff will be able to answer questions and help support menu transparency.
Consumers are demanding a return to real food and transparency through clean label ingredients that deliver fresh, authentic flavors. Taking the time to enhance your menu with clean label options, educate your staff, and accommodate your guests will work wonders for customer loyalty, food traffic, and your bottom line.