Gareth Brown, market development manager at catering supplier Duni, looks at why the catering equipment sector needs to look at stocking sustainable alternatives to meet changing customer demands:
While environmental and sustainability issues have been lingering in the back of consumers’ minds for decades, over the course of the past 12 months there has been a notable shift in the nation’s psyche. Ever since the season finale of Blue Planet 2 late last year, when national treasure David Attenborough drew attention to the huge amounts of rubbish polluting our oceans, the public has been increasingly demanding more sustainable, environmentally friendly alternatives – from the companies that supply their food and drink through to the pubs, hotels and restaurants they frequent.
In fact a fifth of the UK population say they would actively choose brands if they made their sustainability credentials clearer, while 72% of millennials are willing to pay more to companies that are committed to a positive social and environmental impact. This shift in consumer attitudes is beginning to change how the hospitality sector shapes its customer service offering, with recent research from Brita Professional revealing that 40% of hospitality outlets want more advice and information on becoming more sustainable.
The number of catering businesses that want to be sustainable will only increase as consumers continue to become increasingly environmentally conscious. As such, with the catering equipment industry working extremely closely with its clients, achieving similar sustainability values will become ever more important when it comes to winning business and securing sales.
To achieve this, businesses across the catering supply chain will first need to ensure that they have sustainability policies in place so that they can demonstrate their own credentials to both existing and potential customers. If these aren’t already in place they will need to be developed so that they have buy-in across the organisation and are aligned with key business goals. It is worth considering involving employees in this process and asking them to contribute ideas during the strategy development phase. This helps to embed responsibility into the company culture, can improve staff loyalty and will be a crucial factor in achieving buy-in.
Secondly, both distributors and caterers themselves will also need to assess and review their own suppliers’ and manufacturers’ sustainability credentials. Manufacturers should be able to prove their sustainability policies, as well as their targets for environmental performance easily.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the catering supply chain will need to evaluate its product offerings to ensure that they provide the sustainable products that hotels, pubs and restaurants want in order to meet their own customers’ environmental demands. Committing to stocking sustainable products can help set a business apart from competitors and will be increasingly crucial as hospitality businesses look for suppliers that source products that consider the environment.