Recently I read references
from a report by Mintel which evaluated how much extra money restaurant patrons are willing to part with for local and sustainable fare. Turns out roughly 57% are willing to pay more for locally sourced and sustainably grown food ingredients. That may sound fantastic. And it is and ought to be applauded. We have indeed come
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a long way and this is a trend that will continue well into the future (Fast Company published a story last week about Sysco’s efforts to provide Michigan State University with more locally grown produce, a challenge that Sysco spent about three years to figure it out due to the logistical complexity of its operations). So what is the issue?
For one even though 57% of the patrons agreed to pay more for locally sourced food, their willingness to part with that money didnt come easy. At 1-5% premium over regular priced menu items their support for sustainable fare is not exactly resounding. Secondly only 7% claimed that locally grown food drove them to make a restaurant choice. On the face of it one might just wonder if this lukewarm support is something to worry about. At 500Gallons we beg to differ.
First, a restaurant can become sustainable in more than one way. Procuring food locally and food that is grown using sustainable methods is one way. But, restaurants one of the biggest when it comes to the carbon footprint they
leave can do a lot more. In our opinion, by using sustainable methods when it comes to their operations, restaurants can invoke both savings, as well as market their efforts
to drive additional traffic through the door. While we are not suggesting a wholesale replacement of all their energy guzzling equipment with energy start replacements there are many (we have close to about 80+ on our website) actions that they can undertake at their own pace to become sustainable. So replacing incandescent bulbs with LED lights, or using low flow pre-rinse valves, using hand driers in the restrooms instead of paper, using low gallons per flush urinals or better yet waterless urinals are just some ways to conserve energy, save money (on those electric, water and waste bills) as well as genuinely leave a smaller footprint.
Second, we believe you can
leverage the fruits of your actions beyond just your utility bills. You can market your doing, brand your restaurants greenness and attract more traffic. At 500Gallons we are looking to solve this problem as well for our restaurant clients. Our free web based application will feature the ability for restaurants to take credit for their ‘green’ actions. Each restaurant is provided a branding page of its own that patrons can
visit to see the eco-friendly actions the restaurant is undertaking. Not only that patrons can search our database for restaurant greenness information. And of course we will let restaurants list out locally procured
food and vendors they interact with!
At 500Gallons we believe restaurant sustainability and profitability are two sides of the same coin. With our easy to use application which also features a maintenance portal and customization options, restaurants can fine tune their operations, become sustainable and become a green restaurant at their own pace. In the process we believe they will save money, and also increase their brand value and drive more traffic through their doors and thus have a significant effect on their top line.
So are we worried about the Mintel report? Not at all. We believe this is in its infancy and as sustainability especially in the food service industry becomes more front and center applications that allow restaurants to become greener and showcase their efforts will become very popular. So the next time you visit a restaurant be sure to find out if they are a 500Gallons restaurant!