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Sustainability in Foodservice - Consumer Perspective

Sustainability in Foodservice - Consumer Perspective

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Last Published: 09/30/2016

Sustainability in Foodservice - Consumer Perspective

The vast majority of consumers are concerned about environmental issues (85%), social responsibility (83%) and sustainability (80%). However, less than one-third of consumers believe that the foodservice industry is addressing these challenges properly.

It should not be surprising that younger consumers are more concerned with these factors than more mature individuals, and Millennials and Gen Zs often consider green programs to be table stakes at restaurants.

When asked how likely they would be to choose one foodservice establishment over another because of the commitment to social responsibility or a sustainable menu, more than eight in ten customers said it was very likely or somewhat likely. While consumers might not always be willing to pay a price premium, studies have shown that they do want to reward operators that are doing their part to protect the environment.

One of the biggest challenges is that the sustainability lexicon is so broad. Two-thirds of consumers (66%) believe that the word “responsible” captures what sustainability is about very well. More than half of consumers also mention that “environmentally-friendly,” “preservation,” “conservation,” “better for the community,” “safe” and “efficient” also capture the fundamental essence of sustainability. Exactly what sustainability is and how restaurants can incorporate sustainable practices is difficult for consumers to define, yet, they are increasingly 
looking for green alternatives, are concerned with real and natural products, and most importantly, do not believe that restaurants are serving what they are seeking. With so much still unknown and undecided about sustainability, operators and suppliers still have an early adopter advantage and can help determine and define what responsible practices really are. Communicating these practices to consumers is a challenge, yet it is the key to success.

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