Sustainability in Gastronomy: These are the current Trends

People’s environmental awareness has risen massively in recent years. As a result, sustainability issues now have a significant influence on their consumer behaviour. The development often comes from younger people, who are also encouraged by movements such as Fridays for Future. But other generations are also increasingly aware of the finiteness and preciousness of our resources. The topic is also catching on in the food industry: Sustainability in gastronomy is becoming a quality feature and competitive advantage. 

In sustainability, social, ecological and economic aspects go hand in hand. Aspects that even the renowned Michelin Guide has recognized since 2020: since then, in addition to the well-known stars for outstanding culinary art, there has also been the green star, which honours commitment to sustainable action. Worldwide, 359 restaurants already bear these awards – 61 of them in Germany alone (external link: https://guide.michelin.com/ie/en/restaurants/sustainable_gastronomy). The front-runner is France, the home country of the Michelin Guide, with 87 restaurants. But sustainability is also more important than ever outside of Michelin-starred gastronomy. These are the current trends. 

Use more regional products

Regionality and organic products are considered the biggest trends in the food industry. Here, the view of the consumers and that of the trade coincide. 

source of this information: Statista 

In the past, exotic products were an indication of innovative cuisine, but today restaurant operators score points with hand-picked, fairly produced food from the neighbourhood. The exact indication of which farm or manufactory their raw materials come from underlines their quality promise and is also used for marketing purposes. 

But more importantly, the use of regional food is good for the climate balance and also frees us from a threatening dependency, as we have all experienced first-hand in the last two years with the  fragile global supply chain. 

In the US National Restaurant Association’s annual State of the Restaurant Industry 2022 survey, 96 percent of restaurant operators said they had had to make changes to their menu in the past year as a result of delays in their supply chains. 

Did you know that you can take relatively simple steps to make your break offerings more sustainable? We have compiled ten tips on how to do this!

Reduce animal products

More and more people are opting for a diet without meat or even without animal products altogether. Animal well-being is only one aspect of this. Climate protection also plays a role, as many have realised that factory farming has a very negative impact on the environment. 14.5 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans worldwide come from the keeping and processing of animals. 

Gastronomy is also reacting to this. Not only vegetarian, but also vegan dishes, can now be found on every good menu. An increasing number of restaurateurs are even specialising in cuisine without animal products. 

The number of vegan restaurants in Germany, for example, has quadrupled to around 300 since 2013. Good for personal health – and good for the environment!

More sustainable packaging

The take-away business has grown massively in the wake of the global pandemic. This trend continues even after the lockdowns have ended. Whereas in the past, the pizza service satisfied a quick hunger, ordering or picking up even high-quality food is now part of many people’s lifestyle. 

But this also means that packaging materials have to change. Disposable packaging has had its day, and this includes both plastic bowls with aluminium lids as environmental sinners and the morning coffee to go in a coated paper cup. They are being replaced by environmentally-friendly options made of biodegradable material and reusable containers in deposit systems. 

What is only recommended in some countries will become mandatory in Germany from 2023. From then on, restaurants, snack bars and cafés will have to offer their customers a reusable alternative to disposable packaging when selling out-of-home. Only businesses with an area of less than 80 square metres and fewer than five employees will be exempt.

Statista conducted a survey in which more than 70 percent of the participants welcomed this obligation to use reusable packaging. Around half of the respondents are even prepared to pay more for it. 

Be careful when choosing sustainable packaging:

Not everything that looks sustainable actually is. Make sure that packaging made of paper or cardboard has not been coated with plastic as they are no longer fully recyclable. An alternative is specially reinforced cardboard that does not allow liquids to pass through. Glass is not always the best packaging either. Its production is very energy-intensive, and its heavy weight increases CO2 emissions during transport. The use of glass therefore only has a positive effect on the climate balance if it is reused frequently and the transport routes are short, i.e. local or regional.

Energy-efficient appliances and simple electricity-saving measures

Many appliances in the catering industry are real power guzzlers. Replacing them with energy-efficient, more modern versions does involve acquisition costs. Nevertheless, they are much more environmentally-friendly and pay for themselves quickly, especially in times of rising energy costs. For comparison: an appliance in energy efficiency class “A+++” consumes up to 60 percent less electricity than one in class “A”. 

Even apart from new appliances, there is high savings potential in the kitchen. Raising the temperature in the cold store by just one degree does not harm the food, but saves 4 to 6 percent electricity. It is also worth putting matching food items together as several half-empty refrigerators consume more energy than a few full ones. Motion detectors or timers that automatically regulate the light in the cold storage or operating rooms also save electricity, as do simple household tricks such as using lids when cooking or not leaving appliances on stand-by. 

Digitalisation is also a permanent trend in the hotel and catering industry. Learn more about it

Avoid food waste

It is well known that the catering industry contributes a lion’s share to food waste: Almost 15 percent of all food waste comes from restaurants and canteens. This waste is highly damaging to the environment and is usually due to poor planning.

To prevent this from happening in the first place, a functioning merchandise management system is crucial. Software such as Storate’s inventory management system helps to better control inventory, keep track of expiry dates and only order as much as is really needed. With food costs rising rapidly at the moment, restaurateurs are not only doing the environment a favour, but also keeping an eye on their cash flow. Ultimately, they also save their guests from price increases – an additional fact that many appreciate. 

Would you like to know how Storate’s merchandise management software works? Then take part in our pilot project

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