Should Event Planners Adapt to Healthy Eating Trends?

There’s a growing interest in plant-based meals, clean eating, and gluten-free foods, according to an array of recent studies. How should your event adapt?

Looking to spruce up the menu at your upcoming events? Keep an eye on what’s out there in the world of food—it might just surface a few surprises you can share with your audience.

According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC), there’s a growing trend toward healthy food variants. The council’s 2019 Food and Health Survey finds an increased interest in plant-based diets, which half of respondents said they wanted to learn more about. (The term “plant-based” creates a lot of confusion, by the way: Slightly less than a third of respondents say it’s a vegan diet; around 30 percent say that limited amounts of meat, eggs, and dairy are allowed.)

IFIC also found that “clean eating” was picking up steam, with 38 percent of respondents saying they had tried eating a specific diet at some point in the past year, with “clean” being the most popular one. Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling, IFIC Foundation’s vice president for research and partnerships, characterized the approach as allowing for personal choice.

“While some diets are trendier or healthier than others, it’s clear a significant segment of consumers are adopting at least some kind of diet,” she said in a news release. “Consumers are continuing to seek out diets that align with their personal values while joining communities of other Americans adopting similar habits.”

Making Room for Alternative Options

For event planners, this of course creates some challenges in trying to account for all the preferences you might find among consumers. In a 2017 report [registration], the meetings industry group IACC found that the most common requests among event attendees were for gluten-free and vegetarian options. All meeting planners and culinary experts who responded to the survey said they received more gluten-free requests than they did two years prior, while 83 percent said they got more requests for vegan options.

Reading this you might be wondering how willing you should be to handle such requests from attendees. According to Kelli White of the Event Manager Blog, it’s always better to be more accommodating than less, as it can have an effect on perception.

“If you do a stellar job and go above and beyond to make them feel welcomed, they will surely remember and share this with others,” she notes. “The same goes for any negative experience that a guest has, and most of the time they share the details of bad experiences much more freely.”

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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