Sometimes a bit of healthy competition really can end up being good for the end consumer. Such is the case in the restaurant industry today, where we see anti-GMO and anti-additive pressure from consumer groups nudging (sometimes shoving) chains, franchises and individual owner-operators to clean up their acts….and their menus.

What Today’s Educated Diners Demand

From fine dining to casual cafes, today’s savvy food service professionals understand that their newly educated diners have their own standards for dining out.

But what does this mean for you, the coffee cart vendor, the donut shop owner, the sidewalk cafe entrepreneur, the fast food franchisee, the purveyor of fine cuisine?

In a nutshell, this is what today’s diners demand:

  • GMO- and chemical/additive-free ingredients.
  • Fair trade business practices and supplier/vendor relationships
  • Meat free from growth hormones, antibiotics and cheap filler feeds.
  • Eco-conscious, conservationist approach to management of people and products.
  • “Clean” food free of excess sugar, salt, “bad” fats and toxins/chemicals.
  • Locally sourced all-natural or organic produce and protein.

Eco-Stewardship Rears Its Head

Much of the shifting emphasis away from yesterday’s demands for pure good taste and today’s demands for pure goodness can be characterized as “eco-stewardship.”

As such, many companies are refining their brand narrative to include their commitment to eco-stewardship (also called “environmental stewardship”), Starbucks Australia being one notable example.

Here is a summary of changes underway at Starbucks Australia:

  • Shift to all recyclable paper goods.
  • Shift towards in-store recycling programs.
  • Shift towards energy efficient operations.
  • Shift towards partnerships with fair trade vendors.

The Future of Your Restaurant

Perhaps yesterday you were congratulating your staff on keeping your Core Hospitality Furniture filled with happy repeat customers. And today you wake up worried about eco-stewardship and additives. Such is the nature of the ever-shifting sands that make up today’s restaurant industry.

But there is really everything to love about this new shift towards safe, clean, truly healthy foods and planet-loving business practices.

2 action items to pursue now:

  • Start from where you are. In this new paradigm, honesty is paramount. If you are phasing out ingredients with additives, say so. If you have a timeline for adopting use of clean energy, let your customers know. If you are working to meet their needs, chances are good they will continue to support you through the process.
  • Get your staff and customers involved. If you are on the hunt for new suppliers or locally sourced produce, let your staff and customers know. The more involved they are in your transformation, the more invested they will be in your future success.