How You Can Use Sustainability to Increase Business at Your Restaurant
Restaurant food now makes up about half of Americans’ food budgets and a third of their calories. Since restaurant food is such a huge portion of the overall food people are consuming, it’s no surprise that customers are becoming more concerned with where their food comes from.
What’s more, sustainably-minded customers can’t be pinned down by demographics. While it’s true that younger diners (those under 45) are more likely to care about sustainable practices, the truth is that sustainability-conscious customers exist among all demographics.
Many restaurants already realize the importance of sustainability. If you’re interested in making sustainability a focus, you need to make sure your customers know about it. Just look at how successful Chipotle uses its practices in their marketing and website. The company even produced a short film with an anti-factory farming message.
You might not have Chipotle’s marketing budget, but you should still inform customers about the sustainable practices you implement.
Here are a few actions your restaurant can take to be more sustainable.
This one’s pretty obvious. Most people know how important recycling is, and many customers recycle in their own lives. They’re looking for restaurants that help them continue to do so. You can start your recycling efforts by having separate cans for trash and recycling and using recyclable takeout containers.
Food waste programs.
Is your restaurant throwing out large quantities of uneaten, untouched food every day? To combat this waste, Panera started a Day-End Dough-Nation program. The company donates leftover bread to local charities. Can your restaurant donate unsold food to a local organization?
Many consumers like to know that their food wasn’t shipped in from across the world. Depending on what type of restaurant you run, you might even want to consider having an on-site garden. If that’s not possible, be sure to utilize local farms and highlight their ingredients on your menu.
Many consumers are concerned with reducing the amount of meat they eat. Meatless meals often use less resources and produce fewer greenhouse gasses, which can make them more sustainable. Try highlighting the meatless dishes on your menu or hosting a “Meatless Monday.”
Organic (or sustainably farmed) food.
Going back to the Chipotle example, consumers like to know that their food isn’t covered in pesticides or the product of a factory farm. The terms “organic,” “cage-free,” and “cruelty-free” are used often, but learn what they really mean and see how you can incorporate these practices into your restaurant.
Sustainability isn’t always simple, but it shows no signs of going away in 2014. Does your restaurant have any sustainable practices?