Is the FDA Menu Labeling Requirement Going to Hurt my Restaurant Sales?


One of the questions we are frequently getting from customers is how the FDA menu labeling requirement mandating caloric counts on restaurant menus will hurt their sales.

It’s a tricky question, but here’s our answer.

Because the FDA caloric bill has not yet gone into effect for compliance nationally, research is relatively sparse in this area. While states like New York and California have had this requirement in place for many years now, much of the sales data is proprietary and very specific to each brand.

That said, there are several ‘self-published’ findings from many large brands. These should be taken with a grain of salt since these findings are published by the brand, but by and large they generally show no decrease in revenue after introducing caloric labeling. The findings also indicate a drop in average caloric value of an order, which would indicate that customers are generally opting towards lower calorie options, even if they are equivalently or more expensive.

Also, as we mentioned in the webinar we did on this topic, this information is very brand specific – brands like Starbucks cultivate an image of healthy options, good for you foods, and generally healthy offerings, and have seen no drop in reported revenue. Conversely, brands like Chipotle have embraced their high caloric values, and are self-reporting that this has actually increased their revenue in the long run in states where compliance is already mandatory.

The advice we’ve given all clients is to develop a strategy around adding caloric counts to your menus that works for your restaurant. Every restaurant concept is unique with different customer expectations. Do some strategizing to figure out what will work best for you.

Need more details on the FDA menu labeling requirement? Check out the National Restaurant Association’s comprehensive resource center.