The last few years have seen an increase in demand for environmentally-conscious dining options, with customers looking for restaurants that offer eco-friendly service items, locally sourced items, and plant-based alternatives, among other choices. Generation Z, people age 16-24-years-old, lead this environmental movement, with 77 percent of them agreeing that it is important for restaurants to be eco-friendly.
With a potential spending power between $29 billion and $143 billion, restaurateurs must start taking note of tomorrow’s generation today. As this generation ages, they will only become more influential, shaping more of the restaurant market. Considering the oldest Gen Z is only around 22-24-years-old right now, their 25 percent share of the foodservice traffic in 2018 demonstrates just how powerful this generation will become.
Growing Smart and Sustainably with Generation Z?
Many restaurants have successfully embraced this sustainable dining movement without compromising the food and service they provide or their business profits. If you are considering making some changes to your restaurant to help the environment and at the same time appeal to this next generation, here are three easy first steps to take:
1. Ditch Single-Use Plastic
Whether it be straws, cups, bottles, takeaway containers, or grab and go cutlery, plastic can be found in many forms in restaurants. Swapping your single-use plastic for re-usable or bio-degradable alternatives can be an effective, yet simple change that will resonate with Generation Z and have a positive impact on the environment. Make sure you effectively communicate the change to your customers. People love to know about and support brands that are making a difference.
2. Locally Sourced Produce
Locally sourcing produce is predicted to be a big trend in 2020, resulting in the continued rise of the locavore. Local fruits and vegetables ripen naturally and are fresher, more flavorful, and nutrient-dense than imported produce. In addition, buying locally supports the community businesses and decreases the carbon footprint associated with shipping in produce from abroad.
Eating locally is becoming a mainstream opinion in the younger generation, with 57 percent of Gen Zers agreeing it is fair for restaurants to charge more for dishes featuring ingredients from overseas to promote the use of local suppliers.
3. Meat-Free Alternatives
With the rising concern for the environment, the food industry has seen a surge in all things vegetarian, vegan, and even flexitarian. Over recent years movements like “Meat-free Mondays” and “Veganuary,” a UK-based non-profit organization that encourages people to go vegan in January, have grown in popularity. According to The Guardian, 400,000 people around the world pledged to eat vegan during Veganuary. The 2020 participation shows significant growth from the 250,000 people who took part in the movement in January 2019. Statistics like these demonstrate the growing appeal for meat-free alternatives. Offering a few well-thought-out plant-based dishes can boost not only your popularity with the younger generation but also your bottom line, especially during months with a particular food focus like Veganuary in January.
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