Sustainability is a minor food service trend

by Keith Nunes
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CHICAGO — The availability of local or sustainable meals in food service operations barely registered with consumers who were asked what attributes motivate them to eat at a restaurant. When deciding where to eat, 74% of consumers base their decision on menu selection followed by pricing and convenient location at 69% and 67%, respectively. Local/organic ingredients and sustainable ingredients lagged far behind the three leading attributes with only 7% of consumers saying that attribute drove them to a restaurant.

Fifty-seven per cent of the survey respondents did say they are willing to pay more for local or sustainable meals served in restaurants. Unfortunately, of those respondents who said they are willing to pay more — they are only willing to pay an additional 1% to 5%.

“Green and sustainable attributes pale in comparison to the leading restaurant decision drivers of menu selection, prices and convenient location,” said Eric Giandelone, food service director for Mintel. “However, these initiatives support the leading attributes to help a restaurant stand apart and will become more important as the green movement continues to progress.”

When the survey respondents were asked to rate their top three corporate social responsibility initiatives they named living wages, local ingredients and company-provided medical insurance.

“Employee treatment is considered a leading C.S.R. initiative in the restaurant industry,” Mr. Giandelone said. “Despite the fact that those aged 18 to 24 are generally more in tune with green and sustainable initiatives, living wages rank as more important for older consumers.”

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