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More 'Gluten-free,' Less 'Organic' on Restaurant Menus

More 'Gluten-free,' Less 'Organic' on Restaurant Menus
Mintel review finds more gluten-free claims popping up on restaurant menus; consumers continuously interested in where foods originated

More restaurant menus are touting "gluten-free" goods while "organic" menu claims are declining, a recent survey conducted by research firm Mintel finds.

According to Mintel Menu Insights, while "organic" is still the leading ethical claim on restaurant menus, its usage declined 28% between Q4 2010-13.

"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," says Julia Gallo-Torres, category manager, U.S. foodservice Oxygen reports.

Mintel review finds more gluten-free claims popping up on restaurant menus; consumers continuously interested in where foods originated

"Tying into this, we are seeing a return to tried-and-true, traditional preparations, signaled by claims tied to classic, original, homemade, etc.," she said.

Nutrition, geographic claims gaining traction
While organic is in decline, claims like "gluten free" are appearing more frequently on restaurant menus, posting a 200% increase between Q4 2010-13, and accounting for 40% of the total growth in ingredient nutritional claims on the menu during the same time period, Mintel reports.

Related: McDonald's Leader Speaks Frankly About Food and Restaurant Decisions

Meanwhile, the biggest growth in ingredient claims came from nutritional claims, up 14%, and geographic claims, up 12%.

Nutritional claims signal that certain foods can contribute to general health, Gallo-Torres said. In terms of geographic claims, consumers are seeking dining experiences that are more authentic and these claims also can convey a healthier presentation.

Mintel Menu Insights also found that consumers are looking for foods that are representative of being homemade; for example, the claim "made from scratch" is contributing 10% to the overall growth of all restaurant menu claims.

Related: Share Recipes, Share Your Farm's Story

Also tying into this trend is the growth of claims such as original recipe, freshly-picked, farmstead and farm style. And as operators try to signal that their offerings are unique, "signature" as an ingredient marketing claim grew 34%.

"The number of allergen-related claims will continue to gain momentum, as more people are officially diagnosed with specific allergies and their families also go on restricted diets to help keep them healthy.

"There also is a surge in vegetarian and vegan foods. People also want to know where their foods are coming from. Consumers will continue to look to menus for guidance on what to eat," Gallo-Torres concludes.

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