The Nielsen Global Health and Wellness Survey, conducted in 2014, polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries and found that:

  • Half (49%) of global respondents believe they are overweight, and half (50%) are trying to lose weight
  • Consumers seek fresh, natural and minimally processed foods. Beneficial ingredients that help fight illness and promote health are also important
  • Younger consumers are most willing to pay a premium for health attributes
  • Health categories are growing faster than indulgent categories.

The foodservice industry, more than others, is at the mercy of consumer trends. Operators are continuously tweaking and adjusting their menus to ensure they respond to the wants and needs of their target market. But health is more than a trend. As these findings suggest, it’s a movement, and one which foodservice operators would do well to embrace.

A healthy diet is all about one word: balance. Fresh fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates and lean meat all play a pivotal role in one’s health, and therefore should be key components of any foodservice menu.

To ensure healthy levels of key vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc, it’s recommended that each week Australians consume 455g of cooked red meat such as beef  (recommended intake is 100-200g portions served three to four times).

It’s important therefore, for Australians – especially women and children – to eat enough red meat throughout the week, and lunch-time offers an opportunity to meet these recommendations. Beef tends to be considered a dinner staple rather than a lunch option, but its versatility and favourability means there are plenty of great dishes that chefs and restaurateurs can serve at lunch which also respond to the public’s healthy conscience.

According to Veronique Droulez, nutrition manager at Meat and Livestock Australia, Australians are looking for a trade-off between four things at lunch time: taste, cost, health and convenience.

“You trade off between those four things in different ways for different meals and at different times. We know that for lunch people tend to be a little bit more concerned about health than for dinner. And at dinner taste is more important,” she said.

“I guess the best way to think about it, is if you [a foodservice operator] can provide all four of those things then it hits the jackpot.”

Droulez says the ideal meal for Australians (something for savvy foodservice operators to keep in mind) looks like this: 100g to 200g  of protein food such as beef, a cup of wholegrain cereals or legumes or the equivalent of two slices of wholegrain bread and at least three serves of vegetables – the more colour and variety, the better.

“If you have too many carbs then you have that post-lunch slump. If you have too much protein you have that post-lunch slump. So what you really want is a healthy balance between enough protein, enough carbs and enough vegetables.

“I think the ideal solution, from a lunch point of view, is balance,” she said.

To access a wide range of healthy, balanced lunch dishes, click here


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