Calorie Info Is Changing How New Yorkers Eat

But It Isn't Hurting Restaurant Sales at Area Chains

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Calorie data posted on the menus of New York chain restaurants are changing the way New Yorkers eat, according to a study released today by Chicago-based food-industry consultant Technomic. But so far the postings are not hurting restaurant chains, which have instead sold more lower-calorie alternatives.

Some 86% of study participants said they were surprised by the calorie information, and 82% said they were changing their consumption habits because of it, by choosing lower-calorie alternatives.
Some 86% of study participants said they were surprised by the calorie information, and 82% said they were changing their consumption habits because of it, by choosing lower-calorie alternatives. Credit: AP
"It appears, from what consumers are saying, that they're ordering differently, not that they wouldn't go," said Technomic Exec VP Bob Goldin.

Technomic's study was conducted late last week and reflects the opinions of 750 restaurant-goers from New York's five boroughs.

Only one-third of study participants said they stopped going to certain restaurants as a result of the 9-month-old calorie-posting mandate for restaurants that have 15 or more locations in the city.

Changing consumption habits
Some 86% of study participants said they were surprised by the calorie information, and 82% said they were changing their consumption habits because of it, by choosing lower-calorie alternatives. But Mr. Goldin said the Technomic study did not show that calorie disclosure was "necessarily going to have any negative impact on sales" for chain restaurants.

Technomic did not track where New Yorkers were eating, Mr. Goldin said, but 60% of respondents said calorie disclosure affected where they ate. The study showed that 62% of New Yorkers sought restaurants with healthier options.

Mr. Goldin also conceded that the results were based on what consumers said they were doing, rather than on what they were actually doing. And the study did not ask New Yorkers how they were responding to specific chains.

"That would be a good idea for another study," Mr. Goldin said.

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