While “organic” remains the leading ethical claim on menus, its usage dropped 28% during the period, due in part to higher costs associated with such items. Additionally, operators are using a wider variety of terms to describe how food is prepared and from where it was sourced.

“The reality is that organic foods are quite expensive and consumers are looking for alternative claims to help them determine what other types of menu items are safe and of good quality to eat,” said Julia Gallo-Torres, category manager, U.S. food service Oxygen reports. “Tying into this, we are seeing a return to tried-and-true, traditional preparations, signaled by claims tied to classic, original, homemade, etc.”

All nutritional claims on menus grew 14%, and geographic claims climbed 12%. Homemade cues such as “original recipe,” “freshly-picked” and “farm style” also are rising. “Made from scratch” contributed 10% to overall growth of all restaurant menu claims, and the word “signature” increased 34%.

“Many Americans look to menu information to eat better and healthier,” Ms. Gallo-Torres said. “Nutritional claims signal that certain foods can contribute to general health. In terms of geographic claims, consumers are seeking dining experiences that are more authentic and these claims also can convey a healthier presentation.”