How Revamping Food Options Isn't Just Healthier, It’s Profitable

Partner spotlight from PHA’s 2016 Annual Progress Report

Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) hotel partners commit to enhancing the nutritional profile of its children’s and full menus across all dining offerings.

When Hyatt Hotels joined with PHA in 2011, the company knew it would have 10 years to make good on its promise to vastly reduce calories, sodium and sugar content across all of its menus. But it wasn’t sure how it was going to achieve that goal.

Swapping milk or water for sugary beverages and making fruits and vegetables the default sides for kids wasn’t complicated. But determining how to cut calories and increase healthy offerings for adults – without sacrificing taste or raising prices – proved more of a challenge.

For example, hamburgers have always been a top seller for Hyatt, explained John O’Connell, Director of Food and Beverage Operations for the hotel chain. To make them healthier, the company wanted to switch from corn-fed beef patties to grass-fed beef. “But with that came a cost increase,” he said. “For us, profitability of menu items is important. We need to manage costs and control pricing.”

The solution was to reduce portion sizes. Instead of an 8 oz corn-fed beef burger, Hyatt now offers a 6 oz grass-fed beef burger. “It allowed us to keep the cost to the consumer the same,” said O’Connell, “and it’s also healthier. You don’t need 8 oz of beef. Controlling portion sizes helps reduce calories.”

The change to its burgers was one that Hyatt made company-wide. Also company-wide was the creation of a Healthy Balance section of the menu for all of its restaurants, including in-room and poolside dining, as well as catering services. Diners can customize their meals by choosing among proteins, vegetable centric side dishes and sauces. But what’s offered in this section varies from hotel to hotel, giving chefs leeway to be creative in what they prepare and how they choose to prepare it.

For example, in Sacramento, guests ordering room service can create a meal choosing from 3 or 6 oz of organic chicken breast, Pacific salmon, flatiron steak, shrimp or tofu with jasmine rice, roasted potatoes, roasted vegetable hash or a simple green salad.

In Tampa, the chef opted to serve customized meals in bowls that include a choice of protein, sides and sauces. Whether diners want filet mignon or falafel, pineapple mango salsa or Cajun remoulade, spaghetti squash or broccolini, they’re getting a healthier, more nutritious meal suited to their individual taste buds.

The new approach is not just healthier, it’s profitable. The customizable, healthful choices are popular. When we run sales reports for the restaurants, quite often we are finding sections of the Healthy Balance menu are right up there in the top two choices for the entire restaurant. In some cases, it’s grilled salmon with pesto and at another hotel it might be the grilled beef item. But the trend we are seeing is that many of these Healthy Balance items are ending up in the top seller mix.

View Hyatt Hotel’s 2016 Annual Progress Report verified results.

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