Revamping your menu to make things healthier can be a great way to attract the increasingly nutrition-focused public through your door, but how should you manage the transition? Boughton’s Coffee House has been speaking to health coach, Rivkah Maya, about her views.
These days, we are inundated with information about health and nutrition. It’s not a bad thing but for anyone running a café, it can be hard to stay on top of things – whether it’s strict new guidelines or merely the latest trends.
The shift in awareness and dietary preferences means that customers are weighing up their options more than ever before. Healthy eating and drinking is no longer just a trend, it’s here to stay and if businesses don’t respond to that, they’re going to lose out.
“Wellness and wellbeing are really booming at the moment,” confirms Rivkah Maya, a registered nutritional therapist and health coach.
“People want more choices, whether that’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free – consumers are becoming more health- conscious and cafes need to up their game to meet that.
“In an everyday coffee shop, the main red flags are items with refined carbohydrate content and high sugar such as white bread, cakes and pastries.”
Free sugar has perhaps become the headline item to avoid, which can be defined as any sugar added to food or drink and more surprisingly, the sugar that is already in honey, syrup and fruit juice.
Therefore, even if you think your menu avoids unhealthy choices, hidden sugars and fats can still appear in many items.
“A lot of food and drinks served in cafes can be filled with hidden sugars,” says Maya.
“Take hot drinks – anything with syrups or sweetened milks or cream – those things that make them taste amazing! I don’t think people realise how much sugar and processed stuff has been put in to make them taste like that.”
Perhaps more confusingly – both for customers and cafe owners buying-in stock – seeking out ‘low-fat’ and ‘low-sugar’ options can actually be counterproductive.
“I get my clients to avoid things that are labelled ‘low-fat’,” says Maya, “as these foods often have more hidden sugars or processed carbohydrates to make up the flavour and fill out the product. It’s confusing for the consumer, and I think it is misleading.”
Another common trap that both customers and cafe operators can fall into is assuming that some foods are healthier than they actually are.
An artisan Italian pastry with fresh fruits and seeds on top, for example, or a baguette filled with premium-quality, organic Manchego handmade in front of you.
“People can get lured-in by the freshness of something, but you don’t always know what else is in that item,” says Maya.
“And eating some good organic cheese doesn’t outweigh the impact on the body of eating a huge white baguette, which is basically just pure sugar.”
With that in mind, operators can stand out from the crowd by offering truly healthy options.
These don’t have to be complicated or fancy, either: providing simple, nutritious choices on a menu will resonate with customers and show that you’re keen to provide them with better products, whatever their dietary choices.
There’s plenty of research on how diets are changing:
- Almost 13% of the population is now vegetarian or vegan, with a further 21% identifying as ‘flexitarian’ - Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2018 – 2019
- 42% of shoppers are willing to pay more for organic food - European Shopper Insights Survey (October 2018)
- Sales of plant-based alternatives to dairy milk grew by 9.4% in the UK between 2016-2017, totalling £221m - Mintel
Overall, the key message is to do something, rather than nothing, and start making changes sooner, rather than later.
Author: Boughton's Coffee House
The aim of Boughton’s Coffee House is to bring everyone from the world of coffee together in a community that shares ideas, innovations and industry insight to help businesses to grow. Through the pages of the bi-monthly publication, website and partnerships with key events around the country, we bring together like-minded individuals who understand the huge potential of the cafe community on our high streets.