A combination of government policy and growing consumer interest in healthy living has prompted the company to give its hospital cafes a healthy makeover
From swapping spaghetti for courgetti to fitting in more gym time, British consumers are becoming increasingly health-savvy and there’s a huge appetite for brands that can help them make better choices. And with George Osborne’s surprise inclusion of a sugar tax in his last budget, there’s now an even bigger impetus for British businesses to respond.
One company that’s trying to adapt is Muffin Break, the food franchise. In response to plans that will see a 20% sugar tax being imposed in hospital cafes by 2020, the franchise has introduced healthier food options and promotions at its University Hospital Lewisham and Whittington Hospital outlets. As well as upping the number of salad options on its menu, it’s removing temptation in the form of biscuits and crisps from the till points and replacing them with bowls of fruit and a new porridge option. The franchise also has plans to roll out more positive changes in other locations.
Explaining the decision, Lisa Brook, general manager of Muffin Break, said: “We have long been committed to expanding our product portfolio and providing our customers with more healthy alternatives and the NHS move has strengthened our resolve. We pride ourselves on the food that we serve and continue to improve our dining experience to respond to changing consumer needs.”
The demand for lighter options is certainly there. According to Mintel, the research company, 97% of Brits are trying to eat healthily at least some of the time and 27% have started checking food labels more. And given they’re also spending 44% more on gyms, the pursuit for body beautiful could also be behind the rise in fitness franchises. As Pip Wilkins, CEO of the bfa, remarked in June of this year: “The nation’s health and fitness is regularly in the news and that’s helping to drive demand for gyms and health clubs."
But despite the rising interest in healthy living, not everyone seems convinced. Concerns are mounting this week that the sugar tax, which comes into effect in 2018, will lead to job losses and tighter margins – but not necessarily a significant reduction in sugar consumption. A report published this month by Oxford Economics claims it will cost 4,000 retail and hospitality jobs, while Leendert den Hollander, vice president and general manager of Great Britain at Coca-Cola European Partners, said the “facts don’t suggest that a sugar tax works to change behaviour”.
As the industry braces for the introduction of the new tax, Amy Price, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel, says “health remains an ongoing issue for consumers”. Now it’s up the Britain’s franchise network to rise to the challenge.