Consumer’s Preferences among Low-Calorie Food Alternatives in Casual Dining Restaurants

2019-01-02T19:57:23Z (GMT) by Xiaodi Sun
Obesity is an urgent health problem with restaurants accounting for about half of all food expenditure in the U.S. Understanding consumer’s preferences for low-calorie food could help interested restaurants in the foodservice industry facilitate consumers’ low-calorie choices in a positive way without compromising their ability to efficiently meet consumers’ preferences. The purpose of this study was to (1) investigate consumers’ preferences among four forms of low-calorie food alternatives: reformulation, elimination, resizing, and substitution; and (2) to explore which consumers are likely to choose low-calorie menu items and understand what motivates them to make healthy choices using the theory of planned behavior. Results showed that consumers have a clear preference towards elimination and substitution, rather than resizing and reformulation. The trend that high-calorie ingredients were often eliminated or substituted with healthier ingredients highlighted the importance and effectiveness of menu calorie labeling as consumers may adjust their food choices based on calorie information. Moreover, consumers showed high taste expectations for traditional favorite foods such as pizza and burger. Therefore, the entrée type of menu items is more feasible and amenable to be modified to decrease the calorie content. Marketing practices could be used to educate consumers about new low-calorie alternatives to create the demand and promote these items. Lastly, food choice motives were found to influence consumers’ behavioral intention, indicating that they were meaningful additions to the TPB model.