Why you can (and should) choose sustainable dining out
Once upon a time “going green” or doing the “organic” thing came with big price tags that were simply unaffordable for the average restaurant or food service business. Nowadays, living sustainability is easier than ever to achieve and it often comes with big rewards for the business’ bottom line.
Consumers Want Sustainable
If you have two restaurants, side by side, selling exactly the same product, which do you pick? What about if one of them has a price increase of $1 on every menu item, but you know the vegetables are from local farmers, they’re organic, free of pesticides and the meat was ethically produced. Would you pick the slightly more expensive place? Probably, yes. And this is a trend that is reaching right across the world. According to research from Nielsens in 2014, 64% of consumers in the Asia-Pacific will pay more for sustainable products. Sustainable restaurants have a marketing advantage, by appealing to customers who care and they’re willing to go the extra mile - especially if they can eat their avocado on toast with a side of bacon knowing the produce was sustainably and ethically cared for before arriving on their plate.
Consumers are taking initiative
Consumers are taking initiative and responsibility for their own role in creating a more sustainable experience. 16 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away each year. The first step was recycling them, but now consumers have levelled up. Keep Cups have become more popular than ever with consumers bringing their own cups to cafes, cutting down paper and plastic waste, while actually saving the café money and reducing their expenses. Many Aussies are also turning down plastic knives and forks with their take-out lunches and instead carrying their own.
Suppliers are plentiful
Due to the rise of the eco-consumers, it is easier to find sustainable suppliers now than it has been before. With increased demand for the products more suppliers have begun producing them from packaging, products, furniture, condiments, fresh produce, meat and more. The sustainable business eco-system is growing and as a growing number of consumers care about the impacts of their decisions, the suppliers will grow with them and products will, hopefully, become even more affordable.
Waste presents opportunity
Restaurants in America are partnering together to create a solution to restaurant waste. One example of this is Chef-Restaurant Owner Jehangir Mehta who partners with Dirt Candy in New York. He said, “Dirt Candy is one of the restaurants that make vegetables look really pretty. So if they take a portobello where it’s round but they want to make squares, they’ll have leftovers. If we take that, they are being sustainable by not throwing it out, and it’s sustainable for us.” Plus, with marketplaces to trade extra food and avoid it being wasted just like Yume from Victoria, it is easy to not just make your waste sustainable, but to potentially buy produce that doesn’t need to be extra fresh at a discounted price.
So, what does all of this mean for the average Joe Blow? Well, plain and simple, it means that when you eat out, you can think consciously and look for sustainable options, because they are around. More important though, is it is easy for restaurants to offer sustainable solutions for their customers and if someone tells you it’s unrealistic to become sustainable, well you know that answer isn’t necessarily 100% correct…