Culinology - May/June 2011 - (Page 14)

CALORIES Allison Gibeson Counting calories Calorie-oriented items are gaining more space on restaurant menus W 14 I CULINOLOGY I MAY/JUNE 2011 hile most restaurant customers may not be ordering from new calorieoriented menus, the product development efforts to offer dishes below specified calorie limits do meet an essential goal of bringing in new customers. Darren Tristano, executive vice-president with the market research firm Technomic, Inc., Chicago, said the Applebee’s chain is a leader in calorie-oriented menus in the full-service restaurant segment with its less-than-550-calories menu and Weight Watchers meal options. Applebee’s Services, Inc., Lenexa, Kan., first introduced items endorsed by Weight Watchers in 2004 and launched its “Unbelievably Great Tasting and Under 550 Calories” menu in January 2010. In January and February 2011, the best-selling item on the Applebee’s menu was the Signature Sirloin with Garlic Herb Shrimp, a less-than-550-calories selection. Overall, the menu accounts for approximately 8% of systemwide sales. Mr. Tristano also said the restaurant Seasons 52 is in tune with the current consumer focus on calories as everything on the menu at the restaurant contains less than 500 calories. “As the nutritional legislation law has come into play … we’ve seen a lot more of the operators shift to focus on calorie counts for existing items that have lower calories and other chains focusing on items they can develop that are lower in calories,” Mr. Tristano said. “So it’s taking a look at something that may not be excessive; it’s shifting portion size and looking at preparation in ways to keep calories, fat and other things down without losing too much in terms of taste and flavor.” Mr. Tristano said while some consumers are responding to the specialized menus, the typical consumer will continue to choose higher-calorie options. However, the menus do drive traffic and serve other purposes as well. “Overall, it builds the perception of the brand as being healthier, flexible and adaptive, and it gives options to those who may need that or may look forward to that,” Mr. Tristano said. He added that it is important to appeal to all consumer groups and to not isolate anyone. “To get away from any type of consumer group, … to jeopardize your opportunities with those that need a healthier offering, would be very difficult to most strategies to be successful today,” Mr. Tristano said. The most effective way to implement a calorie-oriented menu segment is to emphasize having healthier items as a part of the restaurant culture. Mr. Tristano said just putting a vegan dish or a meatless burger on the menu for the sake of offering such items is not the way to go.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Culinology - May/June 2011

Culinology - May/June 2011
WELCOME - RCA welcomes Sosland Publishing Co. as new CULINOLOGY ® magazine publisher
Fast-casual segment sets the restaurant sales pace
Local, regional claims appearing on more menus
GLUTEN FREE - Specialized menu management
CALORIES - Counting calories
BEEF FLAVOR - Savory infl uence
COST MANAGEMENT - Menu cost management
2011 SHOW SHOTS - RCA Annual Conference & Culinology Expo
N.R.A. WINNERS - ‘And the winners are …’

Culinology - May/June 2011