Nothing to Hide: Restaurants Build Trust through Transparency

January 14, 2016

Never before has openness, communication and accountability been a bigger part of peoples’ decision making when it comes to food. As health and wellness professionals working with clients, it is important to know that people today demand transparency not only around nutrition and allergen information, but also ingredients and food preparation.

Recent surveys show:

  • 70 percent of people say the availability of nutrition information influences their restaurant choice
  • 60 percent of people look for restaurants that actively support the humane treatment of animals
  • Almost 50 percent say seeing their food being prepared as they wait influences where they will eat

Additionally, trust in the food and beverage sector has declined. As a result, restaurants are seeking to rebuild people’s confidence and loyalty through upgraded ingredients and cooking/dining spaces as well as telling holistic stories about their food. The following are a few examples of these transparency initiatives.

Pizza Hut announced that by the end of July 2015, artificial flavors and colors would be removed from nationally available pizzas, establishing themselves as the first national pizza chain to make this commitment. In 2014, Pizza Hut began testing a new “pizza by the slice” concept store with an open environment and pizzas, salads and pastas made-to-order in front of people.

In 2014, McDonalds launched its “Our Food. Your Questions.” online campaign to answer a myriad of questions around its food – everything from controversial ingredients to sourcing and animal welfare. They even shared cooking videos demonstrating how popular menu ingredients are made.

Last year, Wendy’s put a Go Pro-Style camera on a head of lettuce to follow its romaine from farm to restaurant. This ‘romaine lettuce journey’ told the real, fresh food story of how the food is picked, delivered and hand-prepped to promote quality and freshness.

This new era of transparency is a fundamental shift in restaurant practices, sourcing and communication that is here to stay. As restaurants provide calories on menus in 2016 to comply with federal menu labeling legislation and adopt strategies to align with peoples’ demands for more information, we have the opportunity to drive awareness and understanding around this information to guide clients toward healthier choices.