Sustainability Finds Its Way Into Foodservice Category

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Consumer-driven demand for higher-quality food and beverage experiences is expanding from grocery store aisles to a broader range of restaurant formats and foodservice settings. As a result, sustainability is taking on greater cultural weight, according to Diners' Changing Behaviors: Sustainability, Wellness and Where to Eat, a new report by The Hartman Group and Changing Tastes.

"Just as people now shop at an array of food retailers seeking new experiences and flavors such as local, organic, natural and fresh distinctions, so too do they look for those experiences while eating out," stated Hartman Group CEO Laurie Demeritt. "Although traditional dining habits persist (for example, in the minds of diners, eating out remains tied to celebration), consumers have outsourced food preparation and now eat out as a daily habit. When that new behavior is paired with our ongoing cultural fascination with global flavors, diet and health, we see greater demand for menus with fresh, healthy and sustainable options."

Dramatic changes in food culture and eating norms are occurring at the same time that foodservice operators face new challenges and unprecedented risks as food and beverage supply chains become more brittle due to numerous environmental, social and economic influences.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Forty-two percent of respondents indicated they are receptive to sustainable and healthy possibilities within a wide range of restaurant and foodservice settings.
  • Sustainable-receptive diners are more frequent diners who eat out an average of 18 times per month in six different channels, compared to others who eat out an average of 14 times per month.
  • Sustainable-receptive diners are more likely to be Millennials, with children, more affluent, urban and ethnically diverse.
  • Sustainable-receptive diners are health-focused and motivated to make what they believe are smarter eating choices, and many recognize the health benefits of making sustainable food choices.

"Today, restaurant and foodservice companies have to navigate unprecedented changes both in the cost of food and the values of the dining public, which now include their health and the health of the planet," said Changing Tastes Founding Partner Arlin Wasserman. "This report provides key insights into how to successfully bring these together on the menu, in the dining hall and in foodservice operations."

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