Sustainability has been identified as a top trend across the industry for 2021, with the pandemic only further emphasizing the importance of sustainable food production. This rise in customers’ attention to environmental issues has been picked up on by large companies in virtually any industry, and the hospitality and gastronomy industry are no different.  

Promoting achievements such as saving water, zero-waste food policies, recycling electricity or reducing greenhouse gas emissions is important for customer perception. Equally important is communicating your sustainability values, goals and results. For example, TOM Café in Lausanne, Switzerland looks to guarantee quality, traceability and transparency of its supply chain. They maintain a summary table on their website. They bring the transparency they have with their suppliers to their own customers, detailing their renewable energy sources and stating their goals to further reduce their energy and water consumption.  

So, what are three sustainability features in the industry that are easy to incorporate into your own business? 

Don’t throw away potential profit: go zero-waste  

Zero-waste options have made their way to plates across the world of gastronomy. Restaurants have been donating excess food or upcycling it to create menu items such as zero-waste croquettes, lobster shell soup.  

With an excess of beef tallow, an ingredient in traditional soap making, Avling Kitchen & Brewery decided to put its waste to good use. They partnered with a local soap maker and used botanicals grown on its rooftop farm to create truly local and sustainable soaps.  

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Avling Kitchen & Brewery, Rooftop Garden

Artisan Coffee Roasters in Tynemouth in the UK also make their own soap from repurposed coffee grounds with 100% plant-based ingredients and a blend of minty essential oils. 

London restaurant Silo use only fully recycled items. Their lattes are served in reused jam jars and the furniture is made from up-cycled fabrics. Nothing here is wasted. They make their own almond milk, roll their own oats and churn their own butter. Their team say that “We choose to work like this to deliver delicious natural food, whilst demonstrating that sustainable food business is financially viable. That way, we can encourage the growth of other waste free businesses through collaboration, but also simply by demonstrating that it is possible, and it works.”  

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 Silo, London. Zero-waste kitchen

With the rise in takeaway and delivery options, another way to reduce waste is to look into recyclable delivery packaging. For example, London-based industrial design agency PriestmanGoode in collaboration with a series of sustainable material partners, has devised a holistic solution to re-think the entire takeaway food delivery system. Their aim is to change consumer behaviour through circular design, and to make packaging desirable, not disposable. The ‘Zero’ concept comprises a range of reusable, planet-friendly food containers and a delivery rider bag. 

Embracing small changes first and working up to bigger things, many of these zero-waste options show your customer that you care about their concerns and our planet. In addition, these options can have a positive impact on your businesses’ bottom line, saving money and offering another revenue source. 

 

Start putting more plant-based and vegan options on the menu

 
Veganism is at an all-time high. With 35% of Generation Z wanting to be meat-free by 2021 offering plant-based options looks to be not just a trend but a necessity going forward. Millions of consumers are demanding plant-based options. With even non-vegans and non-vegetarians embracing plant-based diet options many places are offering a wider variety of options. 

Clarissa, Alessio and Gelsomina owners of Racines in Switzerland, are very vocal about their ethos with their customers. They have built an ethical, plant-based, organic and ecological culinary concept. They actively seek to make their customers aware of plant-based food: “its benefits and its action for health and above all with respect for the environment and animals.”  

Back in the UK, the Hackney branch of Sutton & Sons is London’s first vegan-only fish and chip shop. They serve up a gourmet, plant-based twist on chippy classics. They have proved so popular that they have now introduced a standalone vegan menu at their other two non-vegan branches in the city. 

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 Sutton & Sons, vegan fish & chips

“Veganism is now a big part of the UK’s dining scene,” explains Gavin Hanly, Co-Founder of Hot Dinners, an online guide to London’s restaurant scene. “Veganism is no longer seen as a niche choice, but a significant part of the market. There’s been a big rise in meat-free restaurants opening over the past year in particular. So much so, the phrase ‘plant-based’ has become commonplace in new restaurant announcements.” 

Reap the benefit from local and seasonal produce 

“The driving force behind locally sourcing is the ethos of what we stand for...” says Matt Levine, owner of Indie Fork, a food and beverage operator in the United States. “Supporting entrepreneurs and farmers, farm fresh ingredients, economically boosting your community, while adhering low carbon footprints, and transmissions.” 

The Ginger Peanut in Devon, UK, uses seasonal menus which change every six to eight weeks. They endeavour to ensure that dishes are sustainable throughout the year and reflect the best of local Devon produce. The same goes for The Gallivant, in Camber, UK. The hotel and restaurant have a sourcing policy which ensures that everything served comes from fishermen, farmers and foragers nearby. 

Günter Seeger, chef and owner of Günter Seeger New York, a 12-table Michelin-star restaurant specializes in seasonal cuisine, changing their menu around seasonal tastes “The main benefit, of course, is the ability to enjoy the season’s freshest and sometimes most unique ingredients,” Günter explains. “My fisherman from Blue Moon Fish calls me from his boat three times a week when he has a catch. It may not always be the same item, but that is the most significant benefit of having a menu that changes daily.” 

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Günter Seeger, Michelin-starred chef, New York 

Günter’s menu changes day-to-day based on availability, but he keeps a few signature dishes on the menu. “We have regular guests who dine several times a week because they are stimulated by the change. It keeps guests coming back.” 

What are the main takeaways in answering your customer’s desire for greater sustainability? 

  • Be transparent and gain trust with your customers by communicating your sustainability values, goals and results. You may not have the sophistication of tables, statistics and figures to report to your customers, but you can still be transparent with your customers about what you’re doing to further sustainability in your business. Your customers will appreciate a recognition of where you are at now, and where you aim to be in future.  

  • Look into sustainable options; zero waste recipes, repurposing old furniture, containers. Reduce plastics, and maybe introduce items such as reusable keep-cups or tote bags as a reward for loyal customers coming to collect their takeaway. 


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