Restaurants struggle to address consumers' health-value scale

Downturns in the market tend to affect various industries in different ways.

Downturns in the market tend to affect various industries in different ways. However, it may be safe to bet the restaurant industry has been one of those most harmed since the economy tanked in 2008, the reason being that cash-strapped consumers opt to save money and eat at home during difficult times.

As the economy trudges along, this sentiment does not appear to be letting up. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that eating healthfully requires spending more money. As a result, many restaurants are missing out on the opportunity to meet consumers' demand for both value and healthy foods.

According to a survey released this week by Mintel, 41 percent of restaurant-goers believe eating health foods at their favorite spots is more expensive than not eating healthfully, and 14 percent of consumers simply opt for the cheapest options.

"This kind of price sensitivity gives rise to the concern that, as people cut spending, they are also likely to cut back on healthy food options," said Eric Giandelone, director of Mintel Foodservice. "The perception that healthy foods are also higher priced is a challenge for restaurant operators, who are under their own pressure to add healthier menu items, not only from consumers but also the government."