Hospitality matters: How to make calorie labelling a success with digital signage


New UK legislation has just come into effect, which legally requires cafes, takeaways and restaurants to display the calorie information of non-prepacked food and soft drinks. The UK is just the latest country to enforce calorie labelling regulations, with the US and parts of Australia having already made the move.

The impact of this kind of legislation may seem challenging for the hospitality industry, but with digitalisation, specifically in the form of digital signage, you can affordably offset the cost of compliance. 

With the right digital signage strategy, you can even use the new ruling as an opportunity to improve your customer experience, and boost profitability, straight out of the gate.

Legislation re-cap

The new legislation came to pass on April 6th 2022, legally mandating out-of- home food businesses with over 250 employees to display the calorie information of any food or non-alcoholic drinks that remain on the menu for more than 30 days per year. Exceptions to the rule include drinks served in their original packaging, and alcoholic drinks above 1.2 % ABV.

Part of a wider government drive to tackle obesity, the new legislation is hoped to help people make more informed food choices, and to encourage out-of-home food businesses to offer lower calorie menu options.

Businesses affected include:

  • Restaurants
  • Franchisees, which belong to franchisors with 250+ employees
  • Fast food outlets
  • Cafes
  • Pubs
  • Supermarkets
  • Cafes and takeaways within larger shops and department stores and entertainment venues, such as cinemas
  • Specialist food stores, delicatessens, sweet shops and bakeries
  • Contract catering i.e canteens
  • Catering for airplanes, trains and ferries and other modes of transport

The regulation stipulates that the calorie count, as well as recommended daily calorie intake must be displayed clearly and prominently just at the point when customers are about to make their menu choices.

Although smaller businesses are not legally required to do so, the government will be strongly encouraging them to comply with the legislation.

More information: GOV.UK

While delivering potentially off-putting calorie count information might seem like a buzzkill, this kind of transparent food labelling can improve your bottom line in both the short and long-term.  

The food and beverage (F&B) sector is a case in point, having successfully dealt with similar on-pack labelling regulations for many years. Calorific food brands and soft drinks have used the opportunity to market their products more openly and effectively, offering helpful nutritional values in addition to calorie information, and importantly, a context to put this all into perspective.

Whether online or in-store 81% of shoppers value transparency

The Food Industry Association

Their continued success has boiled down to their willingness to be transparent – to serve as nutritional advisers and help customers make informed decisions. It’s this trustworthiness that has inspired brand loyalty.  

Like for the F&B sector, the biggest challenge for out-of-home food businesses isn’t having to relay and expose calorie information, but being able to do so cost-effectively and as part of a transparent, overarching marketing strategy. 

Digitalisation can offer the means to implement and support a successful and affordable communications plan. By future-proofing your venues with the roll-out of digital signage, you can eradicate the cost of printing and re-printing hard copy menus, and start to communicate an informative and genuinely engaging marketing strategy that turns customers on.

Digital signage infrastructure

Before you start planning any marketing content, it’s important to ensure that you have the right digital signage infrastructure for your business.

Work out the number of screens you will need for your size of venue, and take the opportunity to explore if self-service kiosks could help to lower your operational costs. Touch-screen kiosks can reduce your dependence on part-time or temporary hires, while also speeding up, and improving your customer service.

Window and front-of-house digital signage

As part of your overall digital strategy, consider if window or front-of-house digital signage could be a better marketing investment than money spent ad-hoc on directories, billboards, websites and even local radio or TV campaigns. With digital signage, you can draw in locals who pass by, and/or encourage repeat custom from those who visit.


Customer experience

Before you launch your digital signage network, you might also like to think about how it could complement and add value to your customer experience, connecting the on-location experience to any other digital assets, such as websites and applications.

Is there an opportunity to promote any other services you sell online? Or can customers sign up for any loyalty schemes, newsletters, and more content about the quality and nutritional value of your food, along with your ethics and environmental awareness as a business? 

Once your digital signage is set up, you can focus on integrating calorie labelling into an effective marketing strategy. Here are some tips on how you can do this:

1/ Display additional nutritional information

 Display calorie count information as part of a wider nutritional overview. With digital signage, you have a real opportunity to highlight the nutritional value, and/or quality of your menu options. 

Even if your dishes are high in calories, they may have other nutritional benefits, and/or offer low fat, sugar or salt content. 

Take a hummus and salad plate as an example. While this dish is more calorific than a double burger with all the trimmings, it is, in fact, hailed for the protein it can offer, as well as its minimal saturated fat content.

Details about how your food is produced and where it came from are also important. If, for instance, you only use local prime beef for your burgers, or if your ingredients are organic, it matters, offering a more complete and favourable picture of the standard, quality and nutrient-rich menu options you offer.

With content management platforms, such as Signagelive, it’s not challenging, time-consuming – or costly to create and display content. 

Even if you’ve just launched one or two digital signage displays, and are not ready to spend any additional budget, you can still effectively implement a content strategy around calorie labelling. 

You can get started with any of the 500+ free-to-use or subscription-based content creation applications that are available on the Signagelive Marketplace

Free apps, such as Menuboards make it easy to regularly update your menus on-screen, offering a selection of template designs with editable sections, in which you can add menu items, nutritional information and pricing. 

2/ Use intuitive food symbols and icons

Use intuitive food symbols and icons to make it even easier for customers to identify helpful nutritional and sourcing information.

Creating and displaying simple icons elicits customers’ trust, enabling them to count on your restaurant or café to help them select what food and drink options are right for them. 

Content management platforms offer integrated subscription-based applications, such as Canva, which allow anyone to manage and create professional-looking graphics. 

Use heart motifs to indicate food items that are good for the heart along with other stock imagery of icons to signpost foods that are great for you, organic or sustainably sourced. 

3/ Devise feature focus marketing on selected menu options

With digital signage playlists, you’re not restricted by any space constraints; you have the platform you need to market any existing and/or new healthy dishes in greater depth.

You can therefore get on board with the new drive for healthy eating, and create a much more informative and tempting overview of your lowest calorie menu options. 

For optimum engagement, harness the full capabilities of digital signage as a platform by using a blend of dynamic and static content. 

Just by featuring some mouth wateringly real high-resolution food photography, low calorie headlines and a short video outlining what’s in your dishes, you can associate your menu options with an irresistible “feel good” factor. 


4/ Create multiple menus for different diets

You can make snack and dining choices easier for your customers by creating set menus for different kinds of dietary requirements. Create and advertise vegan, vegetarian, as well as low fat and allergen-free menu options to appeal to a wider range of customers. 

Regularly update your menu boards, using the advanced scheduling capabilities of content management systems (CMS), such as Signagelive, so content can be displayed on a recurring basis, or alternatively, for a specific date range, or time-frame.

You also have the flexibility to create inclusive menu options to run during specific religious celebrations and festivals, enabling customers to experience alternative dishes and sweets that might have a lower calorie count.

5/ Develop interactive customer experiences

Even in fast-food restaurants, cafes or local sweet shops, you can afford to create new and exciting food tasting experiences. 

With Signagelive web trigger APIs, for instance, you can build lift and learn platforms to engage customers and introduce them to lesser known and/or healthier treats and dishes. 

To shine a light on a particular healthy food, showcase one or two physical ingredients or items related to it, or even a container filled with edible samples.  

This could be a container full of sugar-free chocolates. Any time customers lift the lid to sample the chocolates, more information about them – how they’re made and why they’re healthy  – can be triggered to appear on-screen. 

This creates a powerful and immersive experience that hits all the senses, familiarising customers with foods they may not otherwise try – and buy.

6/ Work with food and drink suppliers, and other partners

The best content can sometimes be the result of a joint effort. In the case of hospitality, food and drink suppliers will have a vested interest in helping you to showcase the nutritional value and quality of your menu items. It’s therefore worth asking if they may have any marketing content you can use and adapt for your own digital signage network. 

Don’t be afraid to go one step further and liaise with local nutritionists, for example, who might be willing to offer free content or information for you to use in exchange for an on-screen credit. 

With this kind of information, you can expertly contextualise calorie information by drawing attention to the importance of other nutritional factors, such as trans-fat values.

7/ Display third-party advertising from health-related businesses

Whether you run a chain of restaurants, or a single small café, you have more opportunity than ever before to monetise your digital signage by scheduling and broadcasting third-party advertising. 

Integrations of content management systems with services, such as Hivestack, Snapp Digital and VistarMedia simplify the process of finding interested advertisers, and incorporating their advertising to strengthen and add value to your own content line-up.

Local advertisers in the healthy living sector make ideal partners, often having a positive knock-on effect on your business by association. 

Fitness centres advertising special discounted class rates for customers is one example of how restaurants can show their support for a balanced and healthy lifestyle, in which exercise, healthy food – and occasional treats all feature.

8/ Use AI-driven customer analytics

Integrations of vision AI solutions, such as Viana by meldCX with platforms like Signagelive can help quickly reveal the impact of displaying calorie counts and other nutritional and sourcing information. 

By gathering customer data with Viana AI-enabled cameras, and then reviewing the analytics and proof of play reports, it’s easy to check whether, in effect, you’re turning customers on or off with any calorie count messaging. 

This data helps clearly signpost how you should adapt your content to generate better results, giving you a reassuring, fact-based steer when you first start displaying calorie information.

While the calorie count legislation demands a change in approach, with the right digital signage support, this can be for the better. Hospitality businesses now have the opportunity and the platform to earn the trust of customers, as well as market new and existing menu options much more honestly and effectively.