While America may not be well-known for its healthy consumerism with food, consumers are more and more interested in choosing healthy, organic, wholesome selections. It goes without saying that the more consumers are demanding healthy options, the better that local, smaller suppliers will be. With the move towards healthier selections, many patrons of foodservice establishments are focused on the transparency of how their meals were made. From source to preparation, consumers are demanding food transparency across the board.
While the GMO debate rages on, the fact of the matter is that regardless of opinion in that respect, an overwhelming majority of Americans support the labeling of it. In a December poll, 66 percent of Americans indicated they supported the labeling of GMOs, while only 7 percent opposed it. The remainder were indifferent. Many individuals believe the identifier will allow them to better judge whether or not a product is processed or otherwise unhealthy.
"GMO ingredients aren't the number one thing, but more than likely within a processed food I'd find something that is a genetically modified product," poll respondent Andrew Chan of Seattle told the Associated Press.
While the FDA has still not mandated that GMOs be included in food labeling, the demand cannot be overlooked. Simply put, Americans - regardless of their opinion on whether any particular ingredient is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ - want to see what’s going into the foods they eat.
Along the same lines of GMOs are ‘natural flavors’, and Americans want to see if those are present in their foods. For some, this implies a cover up of sorts. Luckily, these are required to be present in labels. "Natural flavors can mean whatever," Sara Budowsky, a New York City resident who runs a vegan eating website, told the Associated Press. "I've always been curious when I see that last part of the ingredient list."
All of these trends puts small, local and organic food providers at an advantage, as they will have nothing to hide. Your restaurant can benefit by sticking with the trends and offering up menu items that can be easily explained and with ingredients that you know the source of.