Sustainability: what consumers want

Sustainability has been a big buzzword of 2019, and consumers are piling pressure on operators and suppliers to respond to their concerns. CGA’s Karl Chessell told our 2020 conference what the public wants.
CGA food and retail director Karl Chessell

Sustainability has been a big buzzword of 2019, and consumers are piling pressure on operators and suppliers to respond to their concerns. CGA’s Karl Chessell told our Peach 2020 conference what the public wants.

A clear ‘why’

It’s obvious that consumers care about what they get from a restaurant, pub or bar—the cuisine type, the drinks range, the design and more. They are sensitive to how they get all that too—the service, ambience and all-round experience. But the why is increasingly crucial too. More and more people care about the purpose behind the profit, and operators need to be clear and direct in their messages around sustainability and ethics now. “Consumers really care about your why,” Karl Chessell told 2020.

Responsible sourcing

CGA’s BrandTrack survey shows that more than nine in ten (92%) consumers think it’s important that the brands they visit source environmentally friendly ingredients. As well as a challenge, there’s an opportunity for operators and suppliers here—to tell positive stories about their sourcing and so differentiate themselves from the competition.

Greener packaging

Wasteful and single-use packaging has been under very sharp scrutiny in 2019, and the government’s proposed Resources and Waste Strategy is going to add to demands on businesses to follow the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. Nine in ten (91%) consumers say it’s important that brands source environmentally packaging, a figure that has risen a couple of percentage points over the last year. CGA’s MATCH consumer segmentation tools show that greener packaging is a particularly big issue for groups including Trending Tastemakers’, ‘Sparkling Socialisers’, ‘Confident Conformists’ and ‘Mainstream Minded’. These segments tend to over-index on out-of-home spend, so it’s important for brands to prove they take their concerns seriously.

Better vegetarian and vegan options

Increasing consumer awareness is prompting more and more people to go vegetarian or vegan. Among those adopting veganism, ethical and environmental concerns are two of the top three reasons for making the switch. But BrandTrack shows that many of these converts are less than impressed with the choices on menus at the moment. Getting the vegan offer right will be a growing priority in the next few years.

Proper investment

Consumers want to see tangible changes in business practices, but achieving them will require investment. Our Business Leaders’ Survey shows evidence that it is happening, with decent numbers of bosses increasing their investment this year in minimising waste (40%), protecting the environment (33%) and creating a more sustainable supply chain (32%). But leaders of big businesses are much more likely to be focusing on initiatives—whereas smaller businesses recognise it needs to be a priority but lack resource to make it happen. Smaller businesses need to get proper external support if they are to make progress on their sustainability initiatives.

Consumers will spend more with venues that get it right

Consumers make choices about where they go based on the sustainability credentials of the venues. One in four people would be put off visiting a venue that doesn’t source food ethically, and 41% are willing to pay more.

Consumers are taking personal responsibility to tackle climate change, with half (49%) citing this as the best way to tackle the issue. Consumers will therefore make key decisions about the brands they visit based on sustainability, and operators getting it right can win visits and share of wallet.

Engagement throughout the supply chain

It’s not just at the consumer interface that sustainability matters so much. With businesses under pressure to act responsibly, three quarters (76%) of business leaders rate the ethical engagement of their suppliers as an important consideration. Operators who are serious about sustainability are taking steps to ensure that the people they work with are meeting their own high standards. As Karl Chessell said at 2020 on this urgent issue. “With two billion on-trade visits per year, hospitality can lead the way in delivering great experiences in a sustainable manner.”

CGA’s Peach 2020 Conference was supported by platinum partners Asahi, Bookatable by Michelin,, Coca-Cola European Partners, Coffer Corporate Leisure, CPL Online, Diageo, Fourth, Groupon, Omnivore and Zonal. Network partners were Casual Dining, Chapman Ventilation, Fishbowl, Freeths, Garden Gourmet, Majestic Commercial, Reynolds, RSM, Shield Safety Group, and Yumpingo.

Recent posts:

Share post


Subscribe to our newsletter

Access the latest On Premise news and reports by signing up below.