What Does Sustainable Food Mean to the Average Consumer?

In our last post, we talked about sustainable food and the impact that it bears on restaurant selection. Although the green movement hasn’t affected the restaurant industry as much as some may have expected, it is still gaining traction. It is important to note what consumers look for when it comes to local and sustainable foods.

Sustainable Food Purchasing Data

What are consumers basing their decisions on when it comes to sustainable food choices? It may not be as altruistic as it seems. In truth, the sustainable food movement is largely fueled by a perceived superior quality of food in local and organic products. The Mintel survey reported that 45% of consumers feel that sustainable food and drink are of higher quality than other choices.

Other respondents (43%) felt that sustainable food was important to them because of environmental or humanitarian reasons. This was closely followed by concern for food safety (42%).

The survey also found that certain buzzwords meant more to the end user than others. Marketing that claims “recyclable” or “environmentally friendly” is commonplace vocabulary. Yet words like “Fair Trade” and “reduced carbon footprint” are lesser known factors to consumers.

How Should the Restaurant Industry Approach the Sustainable Food Movement?

These statistics are important to the restaurant industry because the sustainable food movement is increasing. Over 13,000 new sustainable food products have been added to Mintel’s database since 2005. Over 84% of those surveyed reported purchasing some sort of local or sustainable food.

For the restaurant industry, it is important for us to track what purchases mean the most to these consumers as we make our buying decisions. Whether you are dealing with a younger crowd, a more affluent crowd or an aging crowd, be aware that all of them place value on health and safety over green initiatives at this point.



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