Consumer-driven demand for higher quality food and beverage experiences is now diffusing from supermarket aisles into a broader range of restaurant formats and foodservice settings.
“Just as people now shop at an array of food retailers seeking new experiences and flavors such as local, organic, natural, and fresh distinctions, so too do they look for those experiences while eating out,” says Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group. “Although traditional dining habits persist—for example, in the minds of diners, eating out remains tied to celebration—consumers have outsourced food preparation and now eat out as a daily habit. When that new behavior is paired with our ongoing cultural fascination with global flavors, diet, and health, we see greater demand for menus with fresh, healthy, and sustainable options.”
These changes in food culture occur at the same time that foodservice operators face new challenges and unprecedented risks as food and beverage supply chains become more brittle due to numerous environmental, social, and economic influences.
According to a new report, “Diners’ Changing Behaviors: Sustainability, Wellness and Where to Eat,” by The Hartman Group and Changing Tastes, dining habits are converging to include a heightened interest in sustainable menu options.
Forty-two percent of respondents indicated that they are receptive to sustainable and healthy possibilities within a wide range of restaurant and foodservice settings.
Sustainable-receptive diners are more frequent diners, eating out an average of 18 occasions a month in six different channels, compared to others who eat out 14 occasions a month.
Sustainable-receptive diners are also more likely to be Millennials, with children, more affluent, urban, and ethnically diverse.
Sustainable-receptive diners are health-focused and motivated to make what they believe are smarter eating choices, and many recognize the health benefits of making sustainable food choices.
“Today, restaurant and foodservice companies have to navigate unprecedented changes both in the cost of food and the values of the dining public, which now include their health and the health of the planet,” says Arlin Wasserman, founding partner of Changing Tastes. “This report provides key insights into how to successfully bring these together on the menu, in the dining hall, and in foodservice operations.”