How a sustainable mindset can benefit your restaurant business

You’ve probably heard about initiatives to ban plastic straws and the increased focus on vegetarian and vegan options for your restaurant. But how can you, as a restaurant operator, really benefit from sustainability? It starts with the right mindset; from there, the rest will follow. Find out how you can make a difference in our latest blog

How a sustainable mindset can benefit your business

Consumers are more and more aware of the environmental impact of their choices. It affects their expectations from the products they consume, including their food and restaurant visits. This means that the topic of sustainability has become unavoidable and any restaurant that knows its trade is looking for ways to deal with it and do their bit in creating a better world. And that’s a fantastic opportunity (and a lot of fun too)! So, if you want to get into that sustainable mindset, keep reading!

A better business for a better world

The food industry is focusing on conscious consumption and lowering its environmental footprint. So, what sort of trends and shifting behaviour are we looking for? You’ve probably heard of initiatives like getting rid of plastic packaging or banning straws. A focus on more sustainable packaging materials is definitely one of the major trends restaurant operators face and many businesses have switched to biodegradable alternatives. The second major trend is what is generally called the ‘veggie movement’, which has been rising faster than puff pastry. Besides that, meatless eating, or simply more conscious meat consumption, pairs well with the third trend of locally and organically sourced food.

But more change is on the way as Government regulations intensify and new trends in packaging are emerging around the world. It’s clear that both the food industry and consumers have developed a taste for better practices, and thanks to market transparency, more and more businesses are taking a holistic approach to sustainability, improving practices from field to fork.

Make sustainability a core ingredient for your restaurant

Sustainability is not just a trend, but a mindset and part of your identity. Our advice? Look at what efforts fit your business and start with what’s in front of you. Follow your conviction, be authentic in your efforts and pursue them for their own sake, according to your capacities. If you can make your efforts visible, great! If not, that’s also great! In the end, it’s about you believing in and committing to the ideal of taking responsibility for a better world so we’ll all still be able to enjoy it tomorrow (regardless of whether anyone notices or not). Rest assured, it will definitely be good for your brand values and employer branding. However, make sure not to bite off more than you can chew and do things for the right reason – because sustainability is a value that’s at the heart of your business. This leads us to the most important question:

How to get started?

Like any industry, the restaurant business is now serious about taking responsibility for its environmental footprint. If you want to make a difference, opportunities can be found in the big industry movements, but also in the little things right in front of you, as every effort matters. If you’re keen to begin, then these six ideas will help you get started:

  1. Get your fresh products locally – Sourcing produce locally is a way to shorten food miles, which in turn lowers the carbon footprint of each dish served (and customers love locally sourced food, as they trust it to be good and healthy).
  2. Manage your portion sizes – Are plates coming back with side dishes left untouched? Serving smaller portions will reduce your waste, which will make both you and customers happy.
  3. Be smart about your packaging – Are you a foil wrapper or a container packer? Reusable packaging in your kitchen can lower your plastic use (and costs!).
  4. Explore the opportunity of meatless dining – Why not think of ways to meet the demand for meatless dinners with new menu items or other initiatives? Create a buzz with exciting alternatives.
  5. Waste management – Are you filling up the bins? Look at small ways to reduce waste in your stock management or prepping. Oh, and separate your waste!
  6. Check your suppliers – Think field to fork, and check your suppliers on their sustainability standards. For example, fries supplier Lamb Weston is completely transparent about its efforts, as you can read in their sustainability report.

Starting with sustainability is all about picking the low-hanging fruit. However, there are so many opportunities to be found in your kitchen, so this is just a small selection. What insights and experiences do you have regarding working with the sustainability mindset? Share your ideas in the comments and inspire your colleagues! This way we can help each other create a better world!

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