Why Transparency is the Most Important Thing on Your Menu

With customers demanding to know more about the ingredients that make up their food, menu transparency is poised to quickly become one of the hottest food trends of 2016. In fact, even the FDA has taken notice. On Dec. 1, 2016, a new law will require chains with at least 20 units operating under the same name to post calorie information on their menus and menu boards.

Even if this particular regulation does not apply to your restaurant, the push to improve menu transparency is a food trend every restaurant owner should be aware of. After all, the law was drafted in large part due to overwhelming concern from customers about their food. Here are a couple ways you can boost menu transparency and give customers the peace of mind they deserve.

Have ingredient info for each dish on hand
Regardless of how appetizing the name of a dish might sound, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Let interested diners know what went into the final product by ensuring a dish’s full list of ingredients is easily accessible. Consider having such a list available on your restaurant’s website and having a hard copy to share with customers in your restaurant. Achieving this level of transparency is especially important for diners with food allergies. Complex sauces and seasonings that blend together dozens of ingredients could pose a risk to uninformed customers with allergies. Educating diners about the ingredients in each dish is an important step toward building trust – and familiarity with your food.

List the source of main ingredients
Once you’ve made sure every last ingredient is displayed on your menu, the next step is to tell diners where some of the main ingredients came from, if this information is available. This might involve listing the city or even the specific farm where meat or vegetables originated. No matter how detailed you are, always be willing to provide diners with more information should they request it. Remember, transparency is about revealing the truth behind where food comes from and how it is prepared. Make it as easy as possible for customers to learn more about any dish.

Deciding to share the source of each ingredient may also prompt you to stay local during your search for health food. According to a recent report from A.T. Kearney, as much as 70 percent of customers are willing to pay a premium for local food. While they may be more expensive, purchasing local ingredients could very well lead to an increase in sales.

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