CHICAGO – The consumer attitude toward healthy eating has changed, according to a new trend report from market research firm Technomic. While more consumers prize proper nutrition, their perception of what is healthy has shifted toward products labeled as local, natural, organic or sustainable.

“More consumers than ever before tell us that eating healthy and paying attention to nutrition is important,” said Darren Tristano, vice-president of Technomic. “However, there’s a shift happening in terms of what actually defines healthy for them. We’re seeing more consumers gravitate toward health-halo claims — such as local, natural and organic, as well as whole-wheat and free-range. Operators can leverage this growing interest in the health halo by developing the kinds of menu offerings that can underscore health without detracting from the taste perception.”

Consumers find foods claiming a serving of fruit or vegetables or 100% whole wheat are more appealing than products labeled “low-salt,” “low-fat” or “low-sugar,” which half of consumers associate with low taste, according to the report.

Technomic also found that 38% of consumers – up from 33% in 2010 – are more likely to visit restaurants with healthy menu options, even if they don’t order them.