That is what was reported in the National Restaurant Association's annual What's Hot Culinary Forecast survey. Trends of "zero-waste cooking," "hyper-local," and "veggie-centric/vegetable-forward cuisine" made to the top 10 list for 2019.
The good news is some big restaurant chains, such as Starbucks and McDonald's, have already taken actions in responding to these sustainable trends even though a recent study also suggests that consumers might not want to make a lot of effort themselves to eat at a green restaurant. Do owners, managers, and consumers think alike when it comes to the critical green attributes that matter the most to the restaurant business?
Restaurant owners, managers, and consumers represent three different stakeholder groups in the restaurant business. According to the stakeholder theory, various stakeholders of a business may show particular interest in certain aspects of operations based on their interests. In this case,
With those questions in mind, I conducted a study with Yung-Kuei Huang, an assistant professor at National I-Lan University in Taiwan, where we asked 386 consumers, 115 restaurant managers, and 80 owners to rate the importance of the exact 12 green practices that a restaurant can undertake on a 7-point Likert scale (1 = "Not Important At All"; 7 = "Extremely Important"). All informants resided in the United States at the time when the data was collected. The results are reported in the International Journal of Hospitality Management, including the following highlights:
The top 3 green attributes rated by restaurant consumers, managers, and owners
Consumers' willingness to make extra efforts to patronize a green restaurant
When being asked if they believe consumers are willing to make extra efforts to patronize a green restaurant, owners (96.25%) are significantly more likely than managers (85.02%) and consumers (63.04%) to say "yes." In other words, close to 40% of consumers stated they were unwilling to make any extra efforts to dine at a green restaurant, whereas only 14.78% of managers and 3.75% of owners expected consumers would do nothing extra.
In this study, consumers' "extra efforts" were further measured with three different specific items, including "percentage increase in price," "increase in wait time," and "increase in travel distance." Once again, managers and owners are more optimistic than consumers, including:
Consumers, managers, and owners of the restaurant business have their own priorities in terms of what green practices matter the most to a restaurant. Restaurant owners and managers are generally more optimistic than consumers on the extra efforts that a consumer would make to dine at a green restaurant. Restaurant managers and owners, as well as the suppliers who sell green products and restaurant equipment, are highly encouraged to refer to the research findings as they develop effective marketing communication strategies towards these three stakeholder groups.
It is good to see airlines, restaurants, and hotels are switching to more sustainable products because consumers expect more than just their own well-being. Are we doing enough in sustainable tourism? What immediate and future actions can restaurants take for our planet and a greener future?
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Linchi Kwok is an associate professor in The Collins College of Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona). He came to Cal Poly Pomona by way of Syracuse University and Rochester Institute of Technology. He is a blogger and publishes refereed journal articles on service operations, information technology and social media. Linchi is a recipient of The W. Bradford Wiley Memorial Best (Research) Paper of the Year Award, in addition to a few Best Paper Awards in conferences. His perspectives have been quoted in The New York Times, NBC News, Fox News, and LA Times, among other mainstream media outlets. Linchi received an M.S. degree and a Ph.D. degree in hospitality administration from Texas Tech University and an MBA degree from Syracuse University.