How Menu Labeling Laws Will Affect the Consumer Experience

Your restaurant knows that by May 7, 2018, all of the menus will be plastered with the caloric intake of each food item.

But the part your restaurant might be stumbling in the dark about is how consumers will respond to these little numbers splattered across all of the big menu boards. Will the restaurant industry lose tried-and-true customers or even newbies coming to restaurants? Let’s take a look and analyze consumer decisions based on product labeling.

Know the Laws of Proper Labeling

Well, before we talk about how consumers will respond, here’s a quick refresher course on what your restaurant will need by May 7, 2018:

  • On menus and boards, caloric values must be written next to all standard items.
  • Written nutritional information guides with a break down of the total fat, cholesterol, carbs, sodium, etc., for each item must be available upon request.
  • Menus and boards must tell customers that a nutritional guide is available.
  • FDA-suggested daily caloric intake will be required on your menus and boards.

So, now that everyone’s peachy on the laws mandated by the FDA, let’s get to the down-and-dirty truth. Will this new menu labeling make customers shy away from your restaurants?

Don’t Be Afraid to Advertise Your New Menus

We can’t predict the future, but we can look at similar studies to make educated guesses on how consumers will respond to menu labeling.

Studies by the University of Minnesota used eye-tracking technology to see if people actually read the nutrition labels on packaged goods. According to their studies, only 9% of shoppers even looked at the calorie count, and only 1% looked at other components, such as fat, trans fat, sugar and serving size. On top of that, it’s been reported that 24% of diners say they want to see nutrition facts on menus at restaurants.

Long story short, research tells us that consumers won’t necessarily run away from your new menu changes with caloric intake tacked on, and you shouldn’t be afraid to advertise these changes. A small percentage of consumers say they want to see the nutrition facts even though they may not even read them.

Bottom line: it’s imperative for restaurants to get ahead of the curve and fulfill what the FDA requires, so there’s more time to showcase your most delicious, Instagram-able menu items with confidence.