Meeting the lifespan trend with Blue Zone foods

Blue Zone foodsLike many of you reading this, we have both also increased the amount that we have read during the past year with all its rolling lockdowns and inability to travel. One topic that we’ve both come to enjoy is learning about some of the latest advances in the medical and nutritional research field as it relates to foods and habits that can extend one’s lifespan.

Significantly, for your restaurant, we believe this trend of ‘healthful’ or ‘life-extending’ menu options will continue to expand and influence guest preferences over the next decade. We’re already witnessing it with the plant-based food movement, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As the knowledge around lifespan and healthspan (that is, ‘good’ years and not just those end-stage years spent in a more-or-less vegetative state) lifestyles increases, we will only see increased demand for cleaner, organic, local, vegan and all manner of foods that work in an antiaging capacity.

On a fundamental level, this should be done in any case to ensure that your hotel restaurants are adequately providing for your guests who have dietary restrictions by offering the acceptable meal options. But this trend can also mean increased revenues.

Innovations insofar as creative new dishes that are vegan or using only organic and locally sourced ingredients can command greater price points as well as help to attract high-end clientele. This can have a ‘halo’ on rooms revenue as product differentiation in the F&B space can give guests a heightened reason to stay with you over the competition. Any resultant prestige can thus be factored into potential RevPAR growth and also to garner more local awareness.

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All told, with dietary habits changing so quickly nowadays, this is not something you can ignore. But there’s one other emerging trend that may perhaps be more to your liking than, say, expensively converting a kitchen to be entirely plant-based.

As per the title, we are specifically referring to those life-extending foods from our planet’s renowned Blue Zones – those semi-isolated and largely agrarian regions peppered across multiple continents where the inhabitants quite often reach triple digits of healthspan. Based on a lot of research from various agencies as well as an eponymous book on the subject, the five key zones identified are:

  • The islands of Okinawa, Japan
  • The island of Sardinia, Italy
  • The island of Ikaria, Greece
  • The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica
  • The town of Loma Linda in California, particularly its Seventh Day Adventist population

The initial idea of Blue Zone foods came about during a late 2019 strategic planning session (prior to the pandemic) for a resort where our consultancy was recruited to help relaunch the signature dining outlet. During this meeting, it was deemed that going wholly vegan didn’t fit with the overall brand nor target demographic, but that some measures towards healthier, plant-based food options needed to be incorporated in order to fit with the long-term vision of moving into the wellness space.

By adding a single dish on the menu, it helped us address this demand without any additional strain on the kitchen team or increasing ingredient costs. In this instance, the item we added was a ‘Blue Zone Minestrone’ that echoed the traditional hearty Sardinian soup with a variety of vegetables, beans, whole grain pasta and fresh herbs simmering away for hours on end and perfect for a filling winter lunch. Moreover, inserting the actual words ‘Blue Zone’ into the title garnered a lot of attention from patrons who then inquired about what it meant, and subsequently praised our efforts upon learning about the longevity-inducing abilities of said foods.

Although Blue Zone foods – and any others that are touted as veritable healthspan extenders – are indeed mostly plant-based, our hope in bringing this to your attention is so that you know there are other variations upon the broad progression towards vegetarian, flexitarian and vegan lifestyles that you can deploy to gain a marketing edge over your competitors. Give them a try and see how your guests appreciate this branding direction.

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