Does the trend towards healthy eating extend to children's menus?


Does the trend towards healthy eating extend to children's menus?

Giraffe childrens meal

With the current dining trends for clean-eating, going gluten free, and vegetarianism gaining ever more traction in the industry, we take a look at whether hospitality operators ought to consider revamping their children's menus to appeal to health-conscious parents, and how best they might approach this task.

Key global food and drink trends, tipped by market research firm Mintel to dominate the hospitality headlines in 2016, included the consumer demand for 'less processed' food and drinks with a focus on natural and recognisable ingredients. The data agrees; our recent HospitalityGEM survey revealed that almost 70% of parents would like to see health information as well as calorie and allergen details listed on children's menus. This indicates that this growing consumer demand for healthy diet choices extends towards children's options too.

Last summer, one of the biggest news stories in hospitality was research produced by the Soil Association, revealing popular restaurant chains were neglecting to provide fresh food or healthy menu options for children and discovering 'widespread poor practice', such as unlimited refills of sugary fizzy drinks, as part of children's set menus. However, with one of our recent surveys demonstrating that 91% of guests choose to indulge in 'sinful' meals at the weekends and 79% at their evening meal, we believe it is not so much a question of taking all indulgent dishes off the menu for adults and children, but rather providing options so the guests can make a choice.

Restaurant chain, Wahaca, strikes the balance between nutritional and indulgent options by offering an authentic Mexican children's menu offering build-your-own tortilla wraps filled with healthy grilled chicken, fish or a sweet potato and cauliflower vegetarian option, whilst also allowing parents to treat the kids to a quesadilla filled with 'gooey melting cheese'.

Additionally, it's no surprise that Jamie Oliver offers an award-winning kid's menu at his restaurants. Here, you will find a mixture of healthy children's options, such as organic salmon with fresh salad, and indulgent dishes, such as cheesy pasta and chocolate brownies, making an appearance on the menu. However, all options place an emphasis on quality ingredients and have a freshly-prepared, homemade, organic ethos - key requisites to appeal to the modern parent - as well as properly portion controlled indulgent options.

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