What will be the impact of having calories displayed on menus in Dubai?

Trevor MacKenzie, Managing Director/Partner of Mango Tree Restaurants Worldwide, talks about how the introduction of menu calorie count might impact restaurants
What will be the impact of having calories displayed on menus in Dubai?
Trevor MacKenzie, Managing Director/Partner, Mango Tree Restaurants Worldwide
By Jola Chudy
Thu 30 May 2019 09:43 AM

What are your thoughts on UAE menus having to show calories for each listing?

I have a pros and cons view on this. Positively, I feel that educating consumers is great as it helps increase awareness on healthy eating (in moderation), and ultimately reduces food waste, as people will be more mindful of how much they are ordering. A small helping hand towards the sustainability we are all striving for.

On the other hand, we have seen this type of rule in other countries and really haven’t seen a great reduction in weight loss per se. It clutters our menus and makes extra work for our kitchen teams every time we want to do a food promotion.

Nowadays people have the power of the internet at their fingertips so if they are personally concerned they can look it up. Making it so blatant, may make people feel guilty or self-conscious or you may be judged by colleagues. Eating healthily is a personal choice and takes discipline, it’s not a forced societal thing.

Overall though, we hope that it can have positive impact and contribute to people eating more healthily; the positive definitely outweighs the negative.

How do you anticipate this will impact and influence your business?

For Mango Tree I believe this will actually help us, as now we have another avenue to promote the healthiness of Thai cuisine.  Thai eating culture is to share a whole meal for 4 people of about 5-6 dishes. This may equate to 2500-3000 calories in total which is only 625 - 750 calories per person. When consumers recognize this, I hope it might increase how many times they eat Thai food in a month.

Will you change your menus to contain fewer calories because of this?

Mango Tree looks at it from a few aspects:

  1. If we see calories are high, we can reduce portion sizes and pricing, therefore allowing customers to have more variety in their meal which is something we are always trying to promote. Thai cuisine has 400-500 different dishes yet many people only taste the top 20 items.
  2. The launch of our vegan and vegetarian menus have spurred our group to think more healthily and this gives us an avenue to explain and educate further on the benefits of Thai cuisine and Thai culture in general.

Do you anticipate having to get your chefs and staff on board, how do you manage changes such as this in your industry?

Like anything in life change is the hardest thing to manage as initially people resist but our general overall culture at Mango Tree follows the principles of Thai culture in being kind and helping one another.  Our core philosophy that all staff learn with us is 2 things:

  1. We never feed anything to our customers that we wouldn’t feed our own children
  2. We treat everyone as if they were coming into our own home

Living and breathing these points as we do already, I believe will make this education easier for our staff to adapt and implement.

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