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Proof That Sustainable Foods Can Be Profitable

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December 13, 2023

Today’s restaurant-goers are concerned with the environment and savvy about sustainability practices. One of the highly-talked-about customer concerns centers around sustainable food, which influences the places they visit. 57 percent of restaurant-goers feel that sustainability practices in restaurants have some influence on their dining-out decisions.

Some establishments may question if embracing sustainability is worth it. We’re here to tell you that eco-conscious practices are worth it while being easy to implement!


What is Sustainable Food?

Knowing how consumers define sustainable food is essential for kitchens to execute sustainable cuisine. While there isn’t a straightforward definition, sustainable food as a practice encompasses more than where the food comes from. It also takes into consideration energy output, food loss, and far-reaching environmental impacts.

If you want to go sustainable, you’ll want to consider food ingredient origins, supply chains, and resource usage.

4 Techniques to Incorporate Sustainable Practices in Your Restaurant

Go green with some of these helpful tips and menu ideas.

1. Scrutinize Your Seafood Dishes

Take a deep dive into your menu and see where your seafood and shellfish ingredients originate. Seafood is a hot topic among eco-conscious diners, as they seek out eateries that offer ethically sourced ocean fish. Overfishing and industrial practices have had a significant impact on seafood populations. Some studies suggest that our normal population of fish consumption could be depleted by 2048! However, many safe-fishing operations deliver great products that are highly eco-conscious. 

Pacific Rockfish is a fish variety that was once a victim of overfishing. Today, however, wild rockfish is flourishing and closely monitored by reputable seafood suppliers. A prime example is Dockside Seafood Co. A leader in eco-conscious seafood, their selection of fish is sustainability harvested and flash frozen for premium freshness. Their items come in bulk, so you can save on food costs while reaping the benefits of high-quality ocean proteins. With 48 percent of consumers willing to pay more for certified sustainable fish, establishments can increase menu prices to ensure profits. Try This: Beer battered rockfish tacos with pickled vegetables.

Plant-based seafood is another menu option to give diners the flavors of the sea without worrying about the impact on the ocean. The plant-based fish market is expected to reach $1.3 billion by 2031, which showcases a vast consumer trend restaurants can tap into to increase traffic and profits. 

Try This: Watermelon “poke” salad.

2. Prioritize Plant-Based Solutions

Plant-based foods go beyond seafood. In fact, plant-based eating, in general, is a major culinary trend and it’s no wonder why. 14.5 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are traced to the meat and dairy industry. For eco-conscious eaters, increasing plant-based eating is crucial to a more sustainable lifestyle. Boosting your plant-based options is a win-win for both customers and restaurants. 

Produce and plant-based proteins have a lower price point than meat proteins, which means the potential for a robust food cost percentage

According to an article by ProVeg International, meat-sale food margins hover around 8 percent, whereas plant-based food ranges from 35 to 50 percent. Rising meat prices due to supply chain interruptions are the most likely culprits of historically low meat margins. Interestingly, the article highlights that most consumers would be willing to pay the same price for plant-based options as meat options, and 36 percent would pay even more for healthy meatless menu items. For restaurant owners, plant-based menu items mean lower food costs and higher ROI. 


Try This: Pasta with broccoli and creamy vegan cheese sauce.

3. Deflate Food Waste

Sustainable food practices extend beyond where food comes from, it’s also about where it ends up. Food waste substantially contributes to greenhouse gasses and food scarcity. A little over 84 percent of unused food in restaurants is tossed away. Food waste can also contribute to wasted natural resources. For example, the growth and distribution of food products have a high water footprint. In fact, a person’s diet accounts for over two-thirds of their own water footprintdue to the amount needed to produce the food itself. When food is wasted, so too are precious resources. Not only is this food loss a significant impact on the environment, but it’s also a huge money loss for establishments.

Luckily, tackling food waste in your restaurant can be easy. Donating food and creating an in-house composting program can help eliminate ingredients going into landfills. Cooking from a root-to-tip approach can help you reduce waste and increase food cost margins.

  • Simmer vegetable and bone scraps to craft a flavorful, house-made stock. 
  • Pickle fruits and veggies to extend their life and add to salads and cheese boards.
  • Turn fruits into a delicious dessert special.

Try This: Fromage fort made with cheese ends.

4. Survey Your Food Purveyors 

Partnering with vendors that commit to sustainability can also help you ensure eco-conscious products. Working with restaurant supply stores that stock items from sustainability-focused companies takes the guesswork out of ingredient and supply investigation. Plus, they offer bulk pricing, which is excellent for your bottom line.

Double down on savings, and choose a supply store with all your menu and restaurant essentials under one roof. It saves on travel time and gas usage. 

Try This: Eco-friendly packaging for to-go orders.

Go Green and Save at US Foods CHEF’STORE

Looking for eco-friendly foods and sustainable products? CHEF'STORE is committed to sustainability efforts, from stopping waste to partnering with environmentally concerned small farms. You’ll find a wealth of products, from sustainable takeout containers to ethically sourced meats and produce. 

Find your local CHEF'STORE and start going green. We look forward to partnering with you!

The information materials and opinions contained in this blog/website are for general information purposes only, are not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. We make no warranties, representations, or undertakings about any of the content of this blog/website (including, without limitation, as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content).

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