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How can you prioritise sustainability in turbulent times?

Klimato argues that retaining a focus on green goals can also help manage the immediate challenges of rising costs and staff shortages.

October 26, 2022

Hospitality businesses understandably have a lot on their plate right now. There’s staff shortages, supply chain issues, feeding the vulnerable and consumer price inflation soaring past 10% this July - the highest it has been in 40 years. Despite all these issues, the public sector is still tasked with providing cheap and nutritious meals which often means sustainability can be put on the back burner.

We are here to tell you that the two can go hand in hand. We have seen first hand how sustainability brings value to our customers. Read on to find out how. 

Reduce business costs

Meat-free dishes are cheaper and healthier. Oxford University research revealed that, in countries across Western Europe, including the UK, adopting a vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian diet could reduce your food bill by up to one-third. The average cost of a meat-free evening meal is £0.95 vs. £2.02 if meat or fish is on the plate.

One of Klimato’s customers, Sodexo AstraZeneca, found that their vegetarian recipes are on average 63% cheaper than recipes that contain meat or fish. Serving more sustainable food can therefore contribute positively to a business’ profitability.

Plant-based meats  are also a sustainable method of reducing emissions whilst keeping costs down. In the Netherlands, plant-based meat is already cheaper than conventional meat and price parity with conventional meat is expected by 2023

According to ProVeg, plant-based burgers are now 78 cents per kilo below the price of meat and vegan chicken and mincemeat have also seen price drops in comparison to conventional meat. 

“Due to the large use of raw materials, meat is much more sensitive to disruptions in the world market than meat alternatives,” Pablo Moleman of ProVeg Netherlands said in a statement. 

Using less meat in your dishes is not only good for the planet but will also be better for your bottom line. Reducing food waste by using the whole vegetable or product for other dishes is also an effective way to bring down costs. 

Increase sales

Eating more plant-based meals has grown in popularity over the years. Recent YouGov polls indicate that 16% of the UK population adopt a flexitarian diet and 2% are vegan. 

The plant-based diet is a market that is growing and they are the biggest spenders. Vegans in particular will typically pay £37.55 for a meal out, £14.88 more than diners with no special dietary requirements. Vegans are forking out nearly £15 more on average than meat-eaters when they dine out.

To attract this segment, businesses should look to add more vegan options on their menu. Vegan Friendly, a charity, qualifies an establishment as Vegan Friendly, if its menu has at least 25% options in each category, as well as a vegan dessert. That way, vegans will have the same experience that non-vegans have in that restaurant, in terms of variety and experience. If your non-meat eating clientele has enough options to satisfy them, then you are guaranteed to have a customer who will pay more to dine with you. 

Our customers, for example, have seen an increase in sales since having more plant-based options on their menus. 

The Sodexo Oasis Academy schools, for example, have seen an overall shift in pupils' eating habits towards consuming lower carbon dishes since implementing carbon labels on their menus and providing more plant-based options. Over 5 months, the percentage of low carbon meals increased from 78% to 90%.

If you combine low costing plant-based dishes which will increase your sales and customer satisfaction - you’re onto a winner. 

Appeal to more staff

Research has suggested that businesses adopting more sustainable practices could help attract more staff. 

An IBM survey found a growing interest in employees wanting to apply and accept jobs from environmentally sustainable companies, with 67% of the respondents reporting that they are more willing to apply for, and 68% more willing to accept positions from such companies. 

Of the respondents who changed jobs in the past year, around 1 in 3 said that they accepted a lower salary to work for sustainable or socially responsible organisations.

Feeding the vulnerable

Vegetarian, vegan or mediterranean-style diets, have shown to be linked with reduced risk of heart disease, strokes and type 2 diabetes when compared to less healthy dietary patterns. Scientific research also indicates that healthy plant-based diets can be beneficial for the elderly as they lower blood pressure, reduce blood cholesterol and promote a healthy body weight. 

Children also receive these benefits from a meat-free diet but correct calorie intake needs to be accounted for such as providing legumes, cereals, nuts and seeds. 

Do good for the planet and inspire consumers

Consumers view sustainability as a business responsibility. Gen Z’s especially have been labelled “the most disruptive generation ever” by the Bank of America. 

According to a recent Deloitte study, 48% of people want to be more sustainable but don’t know how to be. Businesses have a huge opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint, to source sustainably and inspire others to follow the movement. You can be the one to teach your customers to source seasonally, to reduce their food waste and to limit ingredients with a high carbon footprint. 

The way Klimato does this is by providing customers with carbon labels to put on menus, so that consumers can make more informed decisions. We also help customers communicate clearly on their sustainability initiatives and our labels. Transparency, genuine concern and real long-term change when it comes to sustainability initiatives is the best way to stand out from your competitors, increase customer loyalty and ultimately sell more climate friendly dishes. 

This article has been reposted from its original publication in Public Sector Catering magazine. To read the original article click here

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