EXECUTIVE INSIGHTS | Staff Reporter, Australia

QSR customers develop a taste for food prep transparency

Gone are the times when diners would put food in their mouths without stopping to think about what is in them or how they were made.

In the face of growing obesity concerns and healthier eating messages, local diners are becoming more conscious about their food’s source and composition, looking past the delectable presentations to inquire about the quality and freshness of ingredients used in their favorite meals.

QSR brands have been quick to pick up on this trend, and many like Gelatissimo are showing transparency in their food preparation techniques and ingredient sourcing to woo discerning diners.

“The trend to be transparent with customers about what is in products, we believe is a major step forward from where things were eight years ago,” said Fred Pose, development manager at Gelatissimo.

“We’ve always been really upfront with our consumers about what goes in our products, and pride ourselves on this core ethos – made fresh in store, with no artificial colours or flavours,” added Pose.

Ali Baba, for its part, is proud to reveal that its Australian kebab meals are made mostly of locally sourced ingredients, including its meat.

“Although the recipes are Middle Eastern, many of the ingredients used are Australian. Ali Baba’s meat is 100% premium Australian cut,” said Alan Holmes, operations manager at Ali Baba.

Part of why Australian customers have become more inquisitive about what goes into their food and, in effect, their stomachs is the rising incidence of obesity in the country.

Healthy food trend
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the effects of food on their health evidenced by a Nielsen Health Report this year which revealed 83% of people agreeing with the statement ‘you are what you eat,’ said Jai Hobbs, founder of Paleo Cafe.

“With obesity levels in Australia being one of the highest in the developed world and society becoming increasingly time poor, it is important for QSRs to offer consumers not only convenience but also transparency in their food offerings, in terms of ingredients, quality and source,” he added.

Hobbs said Paleo Café was created with the idea of serving only fresh, quality ingredients that nourish the body, effectively cutting back their customers’ intake of processed foods such as gluten, sugar, grains and preservatives.

“Transparency in terms of ingredients and compliance with the Paleo framework are fundamental to our brand and our customers,” he said. “Paleo Café has a broad customer base, with customers who simply enjoy the taste of our fresh ‘real’ food, those who embrace the Paleo lifestyle to look and feel their best and then we have customers with very specific and strict dietary requirements for health reasons.”

Hobbes said the demand for healthy alternatives is taking the industry by storm, with large brands scrambling to adjust their offerings to include more healthy options and quality ingredients such as free range eggs, ethically sourced and hormone free meats, gluten free buns and sugar free options.

Paleo Café also shares the values of the real food movement, such as putting a higher priority on supporting sufficient sustainable and ethical farming operations so customers can continue enjoying fresh produce and quality proteins.

But with increasing competition and the higher costs often associated with serving healthier, sustainably sourced food, QSRs face the tough task of meeting the higher expectations of customers and keeping costs from spiraling out of control.

“The real food movement is here to stay and the challenge for those QSRs who are embracing it, is meeting customer’s demands and expectations whilst remaining competitive and also viable,” said Hobbs. 

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