Nowadays, awareness of healthy foods builds revenue in restaurants, just like weight loss trends. As a Nutritionist, I have to admit that I am absolutely thrilled. Watching people become passionate about the health of their bodies and the foods that support it warms my heart. It’s been a connection that I’ve worked to help people make for years and years. So don’t mind me while I gush at trends making this happen for me. And if you’re reading this and are a restaurant operator, you should be equally thrilled.
If you just absorb the information in this article alone, you’ll benefit your bottom-line for the better. An added bonus: you’ll be doing it by helping your customers dine safely. It’s a win-win for all parties involved. Not gonna lie, this is probably going to be installment one of a series regarding current health trends and how to improve your revenue, so if you haven’t, make sure you subscribe to our articles so you don’t miss these money-making gems. Without further adieu, let’s learn how citing food allergens on your restaurant menu can make a huge impact on your restaurant, your diners, and your revenue.
What are Food Allergens and Why are they Trending?
If you have a basic awareness of food allergens you know that many people have a life-threatening reactions to food.
While the media might depict allergies as largely harmless, more people are getting diagnosed with food allergies every year. With this diagnosis, you might start to feel trapped. The doctor sends you home with a couple of epi-pens and tells you what foods to avoid. Oftentimes, food allergies deeply alter someone’s day-to-day life.
The most prevalent food allergens include:
When someone consumes food that they are allergic to, their body treats it like a foreign invader. The respiratory tissue begins to swell which can constrict the windpipes and cause the sufferer to suffocate. Next, a bystander administers an Epi-Pen to counteract the body’s histamine response. This is often a traumatic and even life-threatening experience for the allergy sufferer.
As a result of these allergies, nearly 32 million people (and growing) stopped eating out altogether to avoid contamination.
Awareness For Food Allergens On Your Restaurant Menu
In the last few years, as the functional food trend hit the food industry, the restaurant community began to get a glimpse of how important allergens could be. Basically, functional foods refers to foods that perform a positive function within the body. Generally, as those superfoods began to make their way onto restaurant menus, customers demanded other options, too. As a result, customers began to ask the kitchen and the waitstaff for nutritional transparency so as to make the best decisions for their bodies. For example, Cooper’s Hawk came out with an entirely gluten-free menu in response to questions about allergens. Now, restaurants cater to the needs of food allergy sufferers so that everyone enjoys their food.
According to a study released in January by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), a Virginia-based nonprofit, insurance claims for anaphylactic food reactions rose 377 percent in the U.S. from 2007 to 2016.
But while we have begun to recognize food allergies more and more within our society, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface in the food industry. We have a growing market of consumers without enough restaurants to serve them. Do you know what this means? Well according to a study completed by F.A.R.E, one of the leading non-profit organizations in the food-allergy space, approximately 64% of consumers with food allergies re-purchase the same brand again and again once they know it is safe.
If the average restaurant’s customer retention rate is 30%, that’s an increase of 34%. What does that kind of loyalty mean for your restaurant? Providing allergy-friendly offerings on your restaurant menu is hugely worth it.
Making Dining Safer for Your Guests
Now, time to start strategizing how to implement allergen reporting in your restaurant. Well, it can be done in a few ways.
Firstly, try simply offering your customers a transparent view of your menu. This means, that if any of the top 8 allergens are found within your menu items, you alert customers of their presence. This process can be done via a nutrition analysis w/ allergen flagging (which is what we do!).
Each of your recipes is entered into our database and then analyzed to give you reporting on all of their granular nutrition information (which is helpful for other preferences besides allergens) and then each ingredient is flagged for any of the top 8 allergens. This way, you can easily provide the allergen information to your dining guests, or, use it to begin creating allergen-free versions of your best-selling menu offerings!
Food Allergens On Your Restaurant Menu
This brings us to the other way you can make dining safe: you can provide allergy-friendly menu options for your dining guests! These can be created by using ingredients that either avoid all of the 8 allergens or at least exempt from some of the allergens. In the food-allergen community, Vegan food has become a safe category for those who suffer from milk, egg, fish or shellfish allergies! Creating dishes around the other allergens can open the door for more diners to feel safe at a dinner out with their family and provide you with an excellent opportunity to build a loyal customer base who will be grateful to be served by you again and again.