What’s on your plate?
Major players in the hospitality and catering industry debate on how they can best fulfill the findings of the recent 'World Menu Report.'
15 March 2011
Unilever Food Solutions, Ireland’s leading supplier to restaurants, pubs, cafés and fast food outlets, announced the results of a new piece of global research highlighting consumers’ desire for more information on menus when eating out of home.
Results of the ‘World Menu Report’, revealed at a gathering of Irish food and hospitality experts, show that nine out of 10 consumers are demanding more information about food when eating out of home*. Despite international agreement on the importance of eating healthily, poor levels of information were cited as a significant barrier to leading a healthier lifestyle.
The findings come against a backdrop of Ireland having the second highest obesity rates in Europe and diet related illnesses costing the taxpayer some €4bn a year.
Jim Reeves, customer director for Unilever Food Solutions Ireland says: “The World Menu Report has highlighted a clear message to those of us within the food service industry. We know that not all consumers are asking about the nutritional value of their food when eating out of home, but if the information was available to them then this could increase. We also know that the industry is far too complex and wide-ranging to deliver a one-size-fits-all solution but with one in four meals eaten out of home we can’t afford to sit back and do nothing.
“We should work collectively as an industry to come up with workable solutions that give consumers an informed choice and meet caterers’ commercial and operational criteria. We’re already working closely with our customers to provide some of the solutions so we know it’s possible. We believe that by providing these solutions we can empower chefs to change the health of the nation.”
The launch of the World Menu Report forms part of the Unilever Food Solutions brand rejuvenation, which reflects Unilever Food Solutions’ new vision – to support chefs and caterers in satisfying their customers with inspiring, healthy, nutritious food to keep them coming back for more.
The company has committed to providing chefs and caterers with information, advice and ingredients that will help them satisfy their guests’ needs.
*Based on findings of a BrainJuicer survey conducted amongst 3,500 global respondents who eat out at least once a week from seven countries: US, UK, China, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Turkey.
What happened in the Unilever menu debate?
Venue: One Pico, Molesworth St, Dublin 2
Date: Monday, February 7, 2011
• Paulo Tullio (chair)
• Tracey Rogers, managing director, Unilever Food Solutions UK
• Jim Reeves, client services director, Unilever Food Solutions Ireland
• Eamon O’Reilly, proprietor/head chef, One Pico
• Paula Mee, nutritionist
The debate looked at the critical role of nutritional labelling in restaurants, canteens and other hospitality food service settings. Unilever Food Solutions believe that greater transparency of what’s in our food is needed to improve the health of the nation.
Paula Mee explained that Ireland has the second highest levels of obesity in Europe. With 23% of Irish adults obese, this is costing the Irish economy €4 billion a year. Obesity levels in Ireland are growing by 11,000 each year. Mee also explained that 28% of food is eaten on-the-go in Ireland, and that in the US 50% of food is eaten outside of the home making it more and more important to educate consumers about what they are buying.
It was accepted by all that there is confusion over what’s good and what’s bad. People don’t know how to navigate menus.
Eamonn O’Reilly, proprietor of One Pico restaurant said that he can’t ever imagine stating the calorie content next to all his dishes but could foresee stating that certain dishes were lower in fat than others.
Dylan McGrath, proprietor and head chef of Rustic Stone restaurant on Gerorge’s Street in Dublin has designed his menu with different symbols so that his customers know what they are eating, but he refuses to dictate to his customers what they should eat.
Quotes from Eamonn O’Reilly, One Pico
“People go out to a nice restaurant to enjoy the food. They don’t want to be faced with calories and warnings about their food.
“A chef’s main priority is taste. You can’t measure exact calories for every dish as sometimes it depends on the chef working that day as to how much of each ingredient he adds to a dish. It’s not an exact science.
“I believe in informing the consumer but not in a preachy manner. I don’t want to put people off coming back.
“Sometimes food is already low fat and gluten free but it is not stated on the menu.”
Quotes from Dylan McGrath, Rustic Stone
“If someone wants a healthy salad it is available but they can also order a burger and fries. I want to give people a choice but will certainly not force them into eating certain foods.”
“Customers won’t eat in bland restaurants. If you minimise salt too much you might be underseasoning a dish.
“Choice makes it a success but we can’t move too quickly or you leave your customers behind.”