Consumer trends are reaching the point where restaurant operators need to seriously consider adding healthier items and nutritional information to their kids’ menus. 78 per cent of Canadian parents state that health and nutrition are important factors in their purchasing decisions at restaurants (Menu Labelling Remains Important Issue for Canadians, Technomic, 2014).
Health and nutritional transparency have been hot topics as Canadians continue to express interest in standard menu labelling laws. We may soon follow our neighbours to the south who have mandated that by December 1, 2016 all restaurants with over 20 locations must show the calorie content of food items “clearly and conspicuously” on their menus.
Canadian restaurants can stay ahead of this curve and keep consumers happy by increasing healthy options, particularly on kids’ menus. While kids may not be focused on food quality, their parents certainly are. Revamping kids’ menus to emphasize healthy options is key as families are much more likely to visit if they can order fresh food and ingredients.
Kids’ menus are also becoming more sophisticated as parents expand their thinking about how they want their kids to eat. Some restaurants are swapping standard chicken fingers with food from the adult menu. “Allowing kids to eat like regular people is a good step to getting them to eat healthier and think about these things in a different way,” said Joe Sparatta, chef of Southbound in Richmond, VA (Why Restaurants Now Pay Attention to Kids’ Menus, Bon Appetite Online, 2015).
Kids’ menu items worth exploring include whole grain items, fruit/vegetable side items, entrée salads and oven-baked items, all of which made the top four on the National Restaurant Association’s Top 2015 Trends report in the kids’ meals category. Other strategies include offering more variety on the menu such as kids’ smoothies instead of soft drinks, or offering side options like applesauce and yogurt.
About the Author
Jasmine Kafka is Manager of Marketing Communications and Account Services at Kidzsmart, a kids and family marketing firm based in Vancouver, BC. Their focus is on increasing family market ROI for their clients by developing revenue driving, and loyalty inducing kids and family experiences. Through the use of children’s illustrations, storytelling, character development and fun participation games, Kidzsmart develops brand relationships that last.