Sustainability is not just good for the planet, it’s also good for business


With sustainability becoming an increasingly important menu consideration, consumers are becoming more discerning about what they eat. In turn, foodservice operators are choosing seasonal ingredients and making sure to communicate their sourcing initiatives to their customers. Use of the term “sustainable” has grown on menus by 148% in the past four years.

There is a clear customer trend towards sustainable living, which extends to food and beverages. So how can progressive foodservice businesses make the most of the growing awareness and social consciousness of the modern customer?

Buy supplies and ingredients from sustainable sources

Research shows that while 20% of consumers were willing to pay more for sustainable goods, 50% were more likely to buy items described as sustainable.

On the operator-side, however, only 40% were sourcing from sustainable suppliers. Foodservice operators generally saw sustainability as an operational or sourcing initiative rather than an ingredient attribute.

Which means there is a big opportunity for operators to outpace the competition by actively sourcing sustainable ingredients and promoting them to their customers.

Offer menu choices with ethically-sourced premium ingredients

Customers are more than willing to pay higher prices for premium and in-season products, including beverage choices like fresh-squeezed juices, hand-prepared drinks and seasonal ingredients. They also valued brand names on menu boards, especially for beverages: 52% showed a preference for branded juice and coffee.

Make sure your customers know about it

About every 1 in 4 operators display their sustainability initiatives through in-store signs, while a few others have their staff and servers spread the word. Many choose to let their menus do the talking by listing sustainably-sourced items there.

Customer demographics are definitely a factor, with Millennials especially taking the time to check menu boards before ordering.

But there is more to it than just food and beverages. Business owners have embraced many different kinds of sustainability initiatives, such as serving fresh, natural and seasonal products, green energy practices, using recycled paper products and responsible sourcing.

Even something as simple as providing and promoting the use of reusable cups and straws next to your beverage machine and having recycling receptacles nearby can make a big impact in terms of perception.

Implementing and communicating socially aware business practices is becoming a powerful way to attract the increasing numbers of eco-conscious customers.

Help customers become advocates

Customers eat with their eyes first, so including appetising images of beverages and desserts goes a long way towards building awareness and boosting sales.

Well-composed photos of key items can be a strong influence on buying decisions, which is why it’s a good idea to ensure customers have a good view of them.

In terms of buying behaviours, many Gen Z customers will choose to frequent restaurants that promote ethical sourcing practices and display social awareness. These customers are also more likely to photograph and share pictures of their dining experience on social media, which is why adding hashtags to new items, seasonal menus or other events can prove to be an effective marketing tool.

Word-of-mouth is still one of the best marketing tools, with social media growing into its modern-day equivalent. Presenting your business as a socially aware and progressive is a great way to generate goodwill and attract more customers.

Implementing ethical and sustainable practices in your foodservice business kills two birds with one stone: not only is it healthy for your bottom line, but you’ll also be doing your part to make the world a better place. Everybody wins!

If you are looking to scale up your beverage offering, look no further than the NESCAFÉ CoolPro, the commercial juice dispenser that is designed to serve fresh-tasting juice that’s always chilled and always tastes fantastic.


Statistics in this article are sourced from Datassential.

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