Organic food items less prevalent on menus

April 15 2014

As consumers become more health-conscious and concerned about the origin of their food, it seems logical the desire for organic food would increase. 

However, the opposite seems to be the case, according to new research from Mintel, which showed how organic food items fell in incidence on menus by 28 per cent between 2010 and 2013. 

Category manager at US foodservice Oxygen Julia Gallo-Torres suggested that, while customers were still keen to eat food that had been produced in an ethical manner, organic food came at a cost.

"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," she commented. 

It transpired other terms are appearing with greater frequency on menus in the place of organic. These include gluten-free food, which recently topped Restaurants Canada's 2014 Chef Survey of hot food trends. 

Food suitable for those with celiac disease, or simply looking to cut gluten out of their diets, skyrocketed by 200 per cent between 2010 and 2013. This contributed 40 per cent of growth in ingredient nutritional claims. 

It was suggested this could be down to families looking to support their loved ones who cannot eat gluten, by also avoiding such foods, meaning the need to cater for such a lifestyle choice is of crucial importance. 

Ms Gallo-Torres also revealed other descriptive terms were being utilised more by restaurants on their menus, such as "tried-and-true, traditional preparations, signalled by claims tied to classic, original, homemade, etc."

Vegetarian and vegan-suitable foods also became a more common feature in eateries, implying a growing desire among consumers about the origin of their food.

One tactic used by restaurateurs is to use the word 'signature' to describe unique dishes only available at their establishment, in a bid to entice customers. The incidence of this word on menus surged by 34 per cent, Mintel revealed.