This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 1, 2006

Eating Patterns Changing

Consumers have accepted the fact that burgers, fries, and soft drinks are not health food or even healthy food. However, with the latest successful US introductions of Denny's "Grand Slams" and Burger King's "BK Stackers," the latter featuring three hamburgers, three pieces of cheese and four strips of bacon, consumers have clearly chosen to say to the nutritionists, "Forget about it."

And those sentiments have been echoed by some top-of-the-line restaurants like Fleming's Steak House. According to their Corporate Chef, Russell Skall, "Low fat menus are not successful." Looking at the menus of many other restaurants, that attitude would seem to be the rule. Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday, and Olive Garden have all reduced their low-fat offerings.

And portions are enormous. For most of us, those portions are twice the size of servings from the previous century. Some Baby Boomers and World War II generation folks who grew up being members of the "Clean-Plate Club" are cleaning their new plates, even though the quantity of food on those plates is more than before. Others have found a different solution: "Half to go is 'huge'," Skall adds. Many patrons ask for "to-go" boxes when the food arrives at their table.

In the supermarket, we have more so-called "lite" foods than ever before, yet more widespread obesity in the population as well. Perhaps some people are choosing to eat lower fat at home and "treat themselves" at restaurants.

On the healthier side of food trends are more vegetarian menu offerings---not necessarily lower in fat. Organically grown produce and meat is gaining popularity. "New Zealand will go all-organic in about two years," shares Skall. Roasted, grilled, and broiled are the three methods of cooking most favored by upscale restaurant patrons. This same segment also appreciates fresh ingredients and that means "locally grown".

Two distinct camps of restaurant patrons are emerging: some would characterize them as the conscious and the unconscious, the "let's-stay-healthy-because-we-want-to-live-long-and-healthy-lives folks" and those who say "I don't want to 'deprive' myself of the pleasure of eating what tastes good to me." Society will pay the ultimate cost.

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