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A new report from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina compared the calories of more than 3,000 entrees at fast-casual and fast food chains across the country and the results are an important finding for grocerants.
The topline is that main courses served at fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle and Panera tend to be higher-calorie than traditional fast-food entrees, despite public perception that the offerings at these outlets are healthier, according to lead author Danielle Schoffman. They found the average fast-casual meal had 200 more calories than the average fast food meal.
The researchers examined the calorie counts of 3,193 entrees sold at restaurants representing 24 different fast food chains and 28 fast-casual chains, according to the report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which found the average fast-casual entree had about 760 calories compared to the typical fast food entree with about 560 calories.
The opportunity for grocerants is to clearly post calories information and even compare their offerings to similar offerings at chain restaurants. As this sector continues to grow, it will be critical to remain focused on what is top of mind for customers, taste of course but touting calories, nutritional information and sourcing of recipes and ingredients will put the grocerant ahead of its non-supermarket based competition.
Lauren Graf, a registered dietitian with Montefiore Medical Center and not involved in the new study, told Reuters via email that looking just at numbers for calories and sodium “can distract customers from what makes foods healthy - nutrient density, fiber content, antioxidants, quality of the fat, etc. It’s important to look at health more holistically.”
It is the combination of all thee factors which influence people to choose what to eat and where, and for supermarkets to take the holistic approach to their grocerant’s foods and atmosphere is a recipe for success.