Restaurants are back – but are they ignoring America’s Covid weight gain?


New Oversized Items Like The ‘Codzilla’ Sandwich Show Lessons Have Not Been Learned

2020 has been a brutal year for American restaurants, with nearly one in six – more than 110,000 establishments – bankrupt or long-term closed, and survival being Job One. Yet, as the pandemic abates and cities reopen, we all welcome the return of our favorite restaurants. But in their efforts to win back customers, many chains are once again bending to our worst instincts: to bring back their least healthy and high calorie dishes. It’s time for them to embrace a new playbook, which shows they aren’t oblivious to the growing number of customers who want healthier options.

Tired of cooking at home, consumers can’t wait to dine again. However, what awaits them are the same fatty, calorie-dense foods they fed on in quarantine, just served by someone else. A recent food industry article pointed out that “oversized protein” products are all the rage in the search for new “signature” menu offerings. Some of the more notable newcomers include IHOP’s Bacon Obsession menu, the Bacon Mother Cruncher Confit Chicken Sandwich at Checkers & Rally’s, and Red Lobster’s ‘Codzilla’, eight ounces of fried cod coming out of a brioche bun, which actually beats the Big Mac’s calorie count. by 50%.

Barry Popkin, a renowned obesity researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says the new articles show that restaurants care more about the profit than the well-being of their customers. “During the Covid lockdown, Americans turned more and more to junk food, sugary drinks and alcohol, and the weights skyrocketed,” Popkin told me. “Currently we have the restaurant equivalent of that. Now that people are on the move, restaurants are fighting for the crowd who wants to save money… and drive another nail into our increasingly obese, diabetic and hypertensive population. These restaurants prioritize profit and destabilize America. “

Restaurant insiders say these exclusive and monstrous offerings are an oft-used tactic. Tom Ryan, Former Concept Director at McDonald’s

and founder of Smashburger, told me that “these are promotional items that try to attract customers but usually don’t stick.”

So why this gadget? It could be a desperate passage of Hail Mary through older, dying restaurant chains serving a base that wants taste, big portions, and low prices. This playbook really needs to be thrown away. Many chains deny that consumer tastes are changing and that more people really want to eat healthier, especially the larger generational cohort: Millennials.

If ever there was a wake-up call from the food industry on the link between binge drinking and consumer health, Covid-19 was. Apparently, this rating was not received by most of the restaurant industry.

Obesity rates soared to 42.4% in the United States before Covid. Then came the pandemic. Not only did people gain an average of half a pound every 10 days in quarantine, those with obesity had a 48% higher death rate from Covid-19. The problem is only getting worse and restaurants have played a major role in stuffing pounds onto the waistlines of customers.

So, in good conscience, how can restaurants continue to offer mega-portions to their customers? Consider that a study by FMCG Gurus, a global market research company, found that 80% of consumers around the world want to eat and drink healthier to boost their health and immunity after the pandemic. Rather than fighting this trend, the restaurant industry should follow it and lead the charge. They should find tasty and creative ways to serve these new health-conscious customers, rather than making them back down.

Restaurants often argue that “value” is important to many customers and that the only way to deliver that is to use larger portions. While this could be an interpretation, there are plenty of ways to give customers what they want.

Witness an exciting new concept of restaurant chain: Barcelona. This tapas-inspired chain, which has expanded beyond its Connecticut base, has found a way to meet emerging needs by offering a variety of new tastes, a unique dining experience, healthier options and serving sizes. good size, many under $ 10. These particularly attract millennials who are now driving trends in the restaurant industry. And for a fast food item, Chick-Fil-A’s signature sandwich weighs just 440 calories, about half that of “Codzilla,” and costs less than $ 5. Chick-Fil-A has been one of the most successful chains over the past few years, and it does a lot of things.

So what should the restaurant industry do?

  • Offer “signature” items that are not busters. As Barcelona and Chick-Fil-A show, restaurants don’t have to be overkill to build a clientele.
  • Deliver food to your customers really want to. Tasty, healthier, good-size food is where the market is heading. Millennials in particular are behind this trend. Ignoring their needs is a recipe for failure.
  • Step up and (finally) commit to cutting calories and menu portions. Packaged food companies have repeatedly committed to eliminating unhealthy ingredients and reducing portion sizes. Restaurants were visibly absent. It would be good for their clients while maintaining their patronage.

The pandemic has highlighted the impact that unhealthy and unhealthy nutrition can have on the health of consumers. Restaurants must do their part. More and more restaurant customers are asking not for Codzilla, but for new experiences and healthier foods. Failure to deliver will hurt an industry that is just getting back on its feet.


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