Culinary trends aren’t just about what customers like to eat; they influence how a restaurant operates its business. Currently, the environment is on everyone’s mind. Transitioning to locally sourced ingredients or incorporating eco-friendly practices in your business can appeal to environmentally conscious eaters. However, these changes can incur unnecessary costs if not properly understood.
Locally Sourced Ingredients
According to the National Restaurant Association’s annual culinary forecast report, locally sourced meat and seafood and local produce comprised the number one and number three spots, respectively, of the top food trends in 2016. In fact, 57% of people in 2015 said they were more likely to seek out a restaurant that offered locally sourced items on the menu. In terms of revenue, the local food movement has seen an increase from $5 billion in sales in 2008 to over $11 billion in 2014.
One of the major obstacles restaurants experience when purchasing local is their need for such large quantities. Regional food hubs are being established to solve this problem and provide a steady supply chain for local produce. Concerning the costs of local sourcing, there is a common misperception that local ingredients are much more expensive than wholesale or traditional ingredients. In reality, as a recent USDA study proves, local produce costs are cheaper than those sources from groceries or super centers.
With costs and sourcing becoming less of a problem, your restaurant can enjoy the benefits of bringing in new, locally conscious consumers while participating in eco-friendly practices (local food uses fewer transportation-related emissions). The best methods to participate include partnering with local farms, shopping at farmers’ markets, or using a local food distributor.
As people become more eco-conscious in their daily lives, this awareness is affecting their consumer behavior. For restaurants, this translates to people consciously seeking out establishments that align with their personal beliefs and implement environmentally friendly practices.
According to the 2014 National Restaurant Association study, over half of 18-24 year olds look to frequently dine at restaurants that practice environmental sustainability. This means your restaurant would not only attract new diners, but also they would be more loyal as they feel personally attached to the cause.
One of the major ways to practice eco-friendly behavior in your restaurant is to reduce food waste and use all parts of the ingredient. Showcasing these menu items and highlighting your food waste elimination efforts bring positive attention to your business and attract the conscious consumer who’s willing to pay more for such peace of mind.
Your restaurant can start small with eco-friendly strategies such as printing menus on recycled paper, using linen napkins instead of paper, and educating yourself and your staff on environmental sustainability. Eventually, sourcing ingredients as locally as possible, investing in energy-efficient equipment, and giving your restaurant an eco-conscious overhaul are all strategies to consider.