SINGAPORE - Singaporeans actively look out for and would readily pay for healthier meal choices, even if they are more expensive, says a recent survey conducted by Unilever Food Solutions.
200 participants were interviewed for the survey, of which more than half said that they actively look for healthier alternatives when they are dining out.
More than 80 per cent also indicated that they would order the healthier alternative if the option was presented to them, and 63 per cent said that they would be willing to pay slightly more for the healthier menu option.
The survey was conducted to complement the findings of Unilever Food Solutions's third edition of its World Menu Report. The report is an international study conducted across 10 countries on the eating habits and preferences of diners from all over the world.
The report supported the Singapore findings that the majority of diners will seek the healthier option on a menu, even if they don't end up choosing it.
However, 60 per cent of the international participants said that rather than forgoing their favourite dish, they prefer to have small changes made to the meal to make it healthier
More than half also said that they believe the healthier option tends to be more expensive, while 45 per cent said that healthy food isn't filling.
A worrying four out of 10 said that the healthier option usually sounds less appetising - which shows that one of the main barriers to diners choosing a healthy option is the unappealing way it is described.
The report concluded that food operators do not need to completely overhaul their menus in order to deliver healthy food. Rather, diners would like to see their favourite meals simply adapted so that they are only 'slightly' healthier than the original.
In response, Unilever Food Solutions is proposing that chefs and food operators make small changes to their top-selling dishes to make them healthier, while at the same time positioning them to make them more appealing to consumers.
"Chefs and food operators can play a major role in helping to improve the people's health by making small changes that won't impact on taste or quality. This means that diners get the best of both worlds: Their favourite food, but made healthier," said Chef Yen Koh, Regional Executive Chef at Unilever Food Solutions, SEA.
The move to take advantage of consumers' willingness to make small changes to their diets could make a big impact on current obesity levels, the report said.
According to statistics compiled in the report, one billion adults in the world are overweight. Without action, this figure will surpass 1.5 billion by 2015, which is one-fifth of the world's population.
In Singapore, one out of 10 locals is overweight - largely attributed to the increase in the number of people dining out and the corresponding decrease in physical activity.