Despite the fact that fewer Americans than ever say they’re on a diet these days, fast-food joints keep forcing healthy options down our throats, reports Nation’s Restaurant News (registration required) in a schizophrenic mishmash of an article. Offering diet-friendly options is often bad for the chains’ bottom lines, because those foods just don’t sell, meaning restaurants “frequently end up throwing out unused inventory.” Apparently that trashed fare includes a lot of “premium entrée salads,” whose sales peaked between late 2004 and early 2005, then began a steady decline that has led one market researcher to predict the demise of the trend.
Yet food giants continue to push other light fare on innocent consumers, and those new options (like portion-controlled snacks, which are everywhere right now) are selling well.
As a much better article in USA Today explains, several food companies (including TGI Friday’s, Subway, Krispy Kreme, and Hostess) recently rolled out new smaller-sized versions of some items. It’s actually a pretty big deal:
The restaurant industry has shied away from such offerings because they’re sure to cut check totals, says Richard Snead, CEO of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, parent of the 582-store Friday’s chain. “It’s a little scary,” he says. “But the consumer is telling us: ‘I don’t want an entree as big as my head.’”