The hospitality industry must have healthy intentions and offer nutritional transparency for today's health-conscious consumer, says Tracey Rogers
Health and nutrition is a complicated issue for the hospitality industry. With plenty of research suggesting that consumers want healthier options when eating out of home and just as many statistics proving that it's not on their agenda, it's no wonder the issue is hotly debated.
Whatever your view, the issue of healthy eating is here to stay and is set to influence menu trends for the next three to five years. However, fewer than half of consumers are currently satisfied with the healthy menu options served out of home. Whether this is down to lack of inspiration or skill set within the kitchen, we need to raise our game.
We recently collaborated with key industry figures to develop a qualification that'll help keep the next generation of chefs abreast of current health issues affecting our sector. Our new training programme called "Understanding Nutrition in Commercial Kitchens" helps chef-lecturers and students better their understanding. Made up of seven areas, including the building blocks of nutrition, how to cater for special diets and how nutrients impact different people, it'll go a long way in helping the industry to respond to consumers' needs.
Developed with the hospitality industry's Sector Skills Council, People 1st, the programme encourages chefs to realise the influence they can have over consumers' health. To date, almost 100 lecturers have completed our one-day workshop to help them deliver the training and assessments.
Geoff Booth, CEO of Pace, recently said that the fundamental knowledge of how nutrition impacts on a commercial kitchen has been missing from the education network. Like us, he recognises that we need to ensure chefs are trained to handle the modern challenges.
But it's not just students that we want to influence and inspire. Our team of expert chefs and nutritionists continue to develop tools that help chefs understand the nutritional impact of each ingredient they use.
We don't want, or expect, chefs to overhaul their entire menus. We just want to encourage the industry to make small changes to consumers' favourite dishes. So, will you help nudge consumers into eating more healthily? If your answer is yes, then together we can make a difference.
Tracey Rogers is managing director of Unilever Food Solutions