Unilever World Menu Report4

Posted on June 28, 2011 by ChristieFood News

It’s always a little nerve-wracking attending an event where you don’t know anyone. However, I just love networking and meeting new people, so I shrug off my nervousness and just go for it.

Meeting other passionate food lovers (famous ones!) is always a thrill, and even better still when they are as excited to meet me as I am them. Let me explain…

A few weeks ago I attended an event at the gorgeous Zeta Bar at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney. If you need a good date place, the Zeta Bar is it – find the room with the fireplace and warm up one of these chilly nights with someone sexy. But I digress.

The event was held by Unilever Food Solutions who have just released the findings of a global survey they are calling: The World Menu Report.

The survey interviewed people from nine different countries; USA, UK, China, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand about their dining out habits.

As someone who always grills people about what they order at restaurants (and everything they eat in general), I found the findings of this report fascinating. It found that in all the countries surveyed, people were very interested in knowing more about the nutritional value of restaurant meals, how they were prepared and where the produce was sourced from.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • 95% of surveyed people in China want more information about their meals when dining out -“I want to know the source of the ingredients; are they organically source and are they safe to eat?”
  • 63% of surveyed people in Brazil mentioned ‘health’ in their answers as to why nutritional information would influence their choices when dining out – “I would eat healthier foods to balance my weight”. 67% in Australia – “Nutritional information would push people toward healthier food choices – preferably not at the expense of good taste.
  • Consumers globally see food labels including low fat and calorie content as a welcome addition to the menu when eating out.
  • In the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand salt is seen as an important topic for menu information.
  • In China, people would like to know about the vitamins and proteins in their meals.

As you can see, there is loads of food for thought for consumers, restauranteurs, chefs and government bodies about how much transparency is needed (and allowed) when it comes to restaurant menu labelling.

Personally, I make my choice at restaurants based on dishes that I wouldn’t normally (or can’t) cook at home. As an avid cook I’m well aware of sneaky words that refer to unhealthy cooking practices such as ‘crispy’ (deep fried in oil!) and generally know the naughty ingredients in most dishes (loads of butter in sauces to add shine!), so if I order these things I know what I’m doing. I realise, though, that is not the case with many people and that nutritional information such as high fibre, low GI etc would really help.

What information would you like to see on menus? Are you interested in salt, fat, preservatives, allergies, produce origin or something else altogether?

Back to the meeting famous people thing. I got to meet the lovely Catherine Saxelby! And when she met me she said to her colleague ‘oh wow, this is the famous Fig & Cherry, she writes a fantastic food blog’. If you picture me blushing, smiling and generally feeling quite embarrassed then you’d be spot on. There I was, all excited to meet Catherine, who is a super interesting and informative nutritionist (and publisher of the excellent website Foodwatch) and she was excited to meet little old me. How bizarre!

Image courtesy of Unilever Food Solutions. Many thanks to Leah and the PPR team for inviting me to this event.

Christie x
  • I’d like them to start with reliable knowledge by staff of allergens!!!

  • When I eat out -apart from the obvious allergy issues- I choose anything that takes my fancy. It might be just a quirky named dish, or a wierd combination of ingredients, or something I rarely cook for myself. The fat/salt/calorie/GI component doesn’t weigh into it at all because it’s a treat! Eating at home however is a totally different story where I work hard at balancing everything out.

    Any commercial venture should be able to access all basic nutritional information about it’s food if asked. At my work I keep a list of ingredients used for each dish, and how it is prepared and when, and by whom. I may not have the exact calorie breakdown but I could say ‘ the salt and pepper calamari is prepared using riceflour, and flash fried in canola oil. It is fairly high in fatand salt and moderate GI, but is gluten and dairy free if you substitute the dipping sauce. All our seafood is sourced from sustainable farms and the calamari this week originates from ……’
    I don’t think we should clutter up menus with anything other than tantalising descriptions of the food, with perhaps a small disclosure stating nutritional information is available upon request.
    Oh and how exciting to be famous! Great job!

    • That’s a very interesting point about cluttering menus – it may turn some diners off with information overkill!

  • I normally don’t worry about any of the nutritional things when I eat out, cause we only do it once a week, so I just order what sounds delicious to me!

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