As a restaurateur, I always try to read articles surrounding the hospitality industry and have this routine where I get up to date between 7 and 8 every morning.
The other morning there I was, vanilla latte in hand, and found myself reading an article about sustainability in restaurants in Environmental Leader claiming that "about three in four Millennial's (74%) and Generation Z consumers (72%) are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services, according to The Nielsen Company"
Now while I'm a little older than allows me to put myself in either of the social demographic categories, it made me think long and hard. Throughout that day, I proposed this question to my team, my nearest and dearest and even customers when I was talking to them in the restaurants. I wanted to understand if sustainability really was a big decision maker for people deciding where they go for dinner, or is it actually just a soundbite, and if so would they be prepared to pay extra.
Although my research was not extensive, and very much not scientific, it did make me conclude that there are a number of reasons why we as a society pick restaurants, and less than 3% of people actually cite sustainability when I asked them to give me 3 reasons they dine in sites. Value for money, location, trend, reviews, great menu and even who has the lowest voucher cost were all well above on the list.
Now there's no doubt that there is more awareness regarding sustainability than there has been in the past. For example, the industry changing from plastic straws to paper, the coffee chains trying to reduce single-use plastic cups, and levies on plastic bags when we are out shopping. There is no question that this is making a difference, but what more do we need as a society to do to make the changes? What is going to be the catalyst for making a transformational change? I’d welcome your thoughts.
Incidentally, earlier today I saw an Instagram post from Jeremy Clarkson where he was calling out a specific country for the number of plastic bottles in a cove. Now when you get past the certain irony of a motorhead caring about the environment, will that shock us into changing or do we need a levy to be applied like the government did with plastic bags to make us as a society do more, or even business rates relief to encourage hospitality to embrace change. What’s clear is that we need to get sustainability and environmental issues at the front of people’s mind when they make their restaurant choices.