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Can healthy menus be profitable?

By Katya Baxter, Nutritionist,

Fighting obesity is not an individual fight. Yes, each person ultimately makes their own call, but when we are surrounded by fast food establishments and bombarded with cheap junk food, it becomes increasingly difficult to choose what’s right.

The other day I read an interview with Hank Cordello, former executive in the food manufacturing industry. He puts forward the idea that obesity is simply a consequence of ‘smart marketing techniques.’ He proceeds to speak about the idea that the same marketing techniques used to successfully sell other products should also be used to sell healthy food options.

This approach makes a lot of sense, especially when backed by hard facts which show real monetary gains can be realized. And we won’t have to wait too long: a study being conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation intends to demonstrate to businesses that they can make better profits by selling better-for-you foods and drinks.

I must admit, I am very hopeful about tackling the issue from this angle. At the end of the day, food manufacturers and foodservice establishments are businesses with a primary motive to make a profit.

But while food manufacturing and food & beverage industries are quite different, Mr. Cordello suggests that the latter is in the position to make an impact.

Let’s take kids’ menus for starters. Earlier this year, in my presentation at the Western Regional ACF conference, I explored some of the marketing techniques that large corporations have been using to sell kids’ products. Clearly, these companies have been extremely successful in getting kids excited about foods that are not so good for them. But what this also means is that the same techniques can be easily translated into a restaurant setting, where you have an opportunity to get kids excited about their healthful choices.

We’ve been battling obesity for years and so far, none of the implemented initiatives delivered substantial results. We must continue searching for a solution that works for everyone involved. In the meantime, re-positioning healthy foods and drinks can bring us closer to a meaningful change.

How have you been marketing your healthy menu options?

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