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Observing the impact of digital menus at FENS European Nutrition Conference

"When we asked the delegates if they were in favour of calorie labelling, 80.3% said yes."
2nd Mar 2022

Background 

The Federation of European Nutrition Societies (FENS) is a non-profit federation consisting of 26 European nutrition societies, each representing one country. The nutrition societies and organisations within FENS promote the advancement of nutrition science, research and development. As well as this, one of the main aims of FENS is to host a European Nutrition Conference (FENS Conference) every four years. 

The first European conference was organised and hosted by the Nutrition Society (UK) in Cambridge, England. The second and third iterations were held in Germany and Sweden respectively. The thirteen (and latest) conference was held in October 2019 in Dublin, Ireland, not far from Nutritics’ headquarters. 

In the lead up to this four-day event, Nutritics was approached by the conference catering staff who wanted to display calorie information on the meals they created. This engagement was in equal parts a business case study, a scientific/business experiment and a fact-finding mission. 

Introduction 

A short time before the event, Nutritics established a relationship with the conference catering staff. Nutritics set up a team on site that included menu development chefs, catering managers, purchasing managers and event managers coordinating the event. The team also consisted of a number of key account managers from Nutritics. 

In order to create the digital menus, food information was collected for a total of eleven eating occasions. Here ‘eating occasions’ includes breakfasts, morning breaks, lunches and afternoon breaks. During the information gathering phase, the team communicated with a total of 19 suppliers to gather ingredient specifications for 223 ingredients. These were then used across 101 recipes to display the calorie information for 46 menu items. For ease of use, suppliers were offered access to a web based supplier portal so they could upload information themselves in electronic form. 

With the food information on hand, the team was able to calculate nutrition information, serving sizes, ingredient list and allergens using Nutritics menu management software. All of this information was then displayed on interactive digital menus which delegates could access via their smart devices through using QR codes. 

Menu information was further accessible via the Libro mobile app enabling a direct link for delegates to input the exact food they consumed across the four days into a diet log. Digital menus enabled users to see the calorie content of food in the menu. More advanced features allowed delegates to filter menu items, see full ingredient lists and allergen information. 

Findings 

  • The conference was incredibly well attended with 1,654 delegates from seventy-eight countries in attendance.
  • Delegates' perception of digital menus was extremely positive considering this was a new and novel way to present food information. 
  • The conference ran from 08:30 to 20:30 each. There was a high level of interaction throughout, with digital menus being used 1,328 times during the conference. 
  • The rate of interactions was significantly higher during breaks (1.36 per min) compared with outside breaks (0.37 per min). 
  • When we asked the delegates if they were in favour of calorie labelling, the majority said yes (80.3%). This is in line with other consumer acceptability polls. 
  • Full findings from our research were published here

Conclusion 

For Nutritics, working with the catering company throughout the conference gave incredible insight and a chance to observe the impact of digital menus in a real world setting. This insight has since allowed us to develop a business protocol which is used to help other companies integrate with display menus and manage other types of food information such as allergens. 

For the conference caterers, integrating with Nutritics Digital Menu Management System proved to be a huge success. Not only were the digital menus well received by delegates but there were also several other business benefits. For one, the process of quantifying the ingredients used across the menu has allowed them to better control costs. It has also provided them with the insight they needed to make their menu even more cost efficient in the future. 

Integrating with Nutritics menu management system and digital menus has enabled them to future-proof the business, get a headstart on future legislative changes and stay one step ahead of the competition. 

Nutritics can be customised to meet your needs. Easy to use, cloud-based, and with the most comprehensive set of food reference databases available, Nutritics is developed by technologists and regulatory experts, specifically for use within the food service industry. Click through to try Nutritics for free for seven days, or to speak to one of our expert advisors.