As our collective health knowledge evolves with the years, consumer habits change. Companies must adjust with the times. Noodles & Company, which had a strong debut in the nineties with continued success into the two-thousands, hit a road bump recently as consumers began cutting carbs.
Fighting public perception
These days, the most successful companies keep the health of consumers in mind. Noodles & Company has seen a drop in sales because the public perception is that a company focusing solely on noodles and pasta can’t be healthy. As consumers demand more low-carb options, there isn’t much room for a pasta joint.
Consumers aren’t wrong. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, white-flour pasta delivers a high-glycemic load, which can have deleterious health effects. High-glycemic foods can cause powerful spikes in blood sugar. This can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, and more. No wonder consumers are steering clear of carb-heavy foods that cause blood sugar spikes.1
On their website, Noodles & Company touts options for gluten-free, low-calorie, low-sugar, and low-sodium meals. They include a full ingredient list, along with a list of prohibited ingredients such as MSG’s, aspartame, parabens, high-fructose corn syrup, and more. They point out that they don’t use artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
The role of low-carb diets
The rise of the paleo and ketogenic diets have proven to be a challenge for the pasta chain. How many Americans follow a low-carb diet isn’t well known, but the shift is certainly felt by Noodles & Company, which had to close 60 underperforming restaurants in 2017.
Other restaurant chains have responded to the need for low-carb options. Jersey Mike’s allows consumers to order their “sub in a tub,” meaning they can order their submarine ingredients in a bowl without the bun. Other sandwich shops, such as Subway, have followed suit. Chipotle makes it easy to order low-carb meals with their salads and burrito bowls. According to Healthline, you can order a salad from Chipotle with chicken or meat and add grilled vegetables and guacamole for only 14 grams of total carbs, 8 of which are fiber.2 Panera, whose foods are typically high in carbs, is now offering a low-carb breakfast menu that features eggs, meat, and vegetables.
The move to save Noodles: Zoodles
In order to change the perception that Noodles & Company isn’t a healthy choice, the chain has decided to roll out a new option: zoodles! Zoodles are noodles made from zucchini and have become an increasingly popular option in place of grain-based pasta. Along with the introduction of zoodles, Noodles & Company is introducing leaner options to attract the low-carb consumer base. They’ve already seen improvements in sales that have boosted their stock to higher levels than it’s seen in five years.
Noodles & Company plans to continue to offer healthier choices and attract consumers that have avoided them in the past. After all, who doesn’t love a delicious noodle bowl? Consumers just want it to fit their health goals.
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