Green E&S: the New Value-Add
One of the changes wrought in the U.S. hospitality industry as a result of the Great Recession is that restaurant and foodservice customers now value dining destinations for reasons that have nothing to do with meal choices and menu pricing. Let there be no mistake – consumers still care, perhaps more passionately than ever, about food, its sourcing, safety and preparation methods. This love affair with all things food related now extends even to farmers and other product providers, as well as the chefs knocking out original menu items. But now, how a foodservice or restaurant embraces its social responsibility and markets its brand seems to matter just as much for a growing number of customers.
This trend received new credence when a recent research report revealed that some 80% of surveyed restaurant goers would prefer to patronize operations that make significant efforts to reduce the solid waste they generate. Eighty percent is a pretty impressive figure and it comes on top of other recent studies showing that a growing majority of U.S. diners want to visit restaurants that are measurably greener and energy-efficient than their competitors. Who would have thought even a few years ago that “value” for foodservice customers would rest on composting, use of recyclable materials and water conservation as much as attractive price points and LTOs?
For manufacturers and distributors of foodservice equipment and supplies, helping operators decrease waste and contributions to landfills represents new opportunities for innovation and sales increases. Creating serving ware and packaging with biodegradable plastic resins now approved for food contact by the FDA is just one obvious example. Helping operators publicize their green transitions and accomplishments to customers is a much more potentially rewarding approach, as it aligns both E&S suppliers and end-users with the public’s increasing preference for environmental stewardship and sustainability. The key is be sure that industry manufacturers and operators are recognized as part of the solution, not part of the problem, when they market their products to customers. In our business, doing the right thing becomes a lot more profitable when people know you’re doing it.