A survey commissioned by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) reported that more than 90% of respondents said they would be more likely to choose a venue if it told them about the provenance of their food and their impact on society and the environment.
Mark Linehan, managing director of the SRA, said: “Foodservice businesses that ignore their customers’ interest in sustainability or fail to communicate about the good things they do, do so at their peril.
“Instead they should be celebrating their suppliers and highlighting their positive impact on the community and the environment – helping their customers enjoy their meals that little bit more.”
Three quarters of respondents to the survey said a business’ sustainability and ethical credentials represented greater value for them than a 10% discount on the bill.
Customer concerns over these issues rose significantly over the last five years, with 93% of respondents saying they considered them more than they had in 2010 and 87.3% saying sustainability and ethics had been a deciding factor in their choice of dining out destination.
Additionally, 95% of those asked said they expected sustainability issues to exert an even greater influence on their dining decisions five years from now.
Linehan added: “Food has a story and diners want to hear it – so our advice is that if you want to be running a successful hospitality business – tell that story.”
The SRA is preparing to launch a new consumer-facing website, www.foodmadegood.org, aimed at giving diners better information about their food and the sustainability credentials of the SRA's 5,000 member restaurants.
The site also plans to campaign on various issues and challenge consumers on issues such as ordering tap instead of bottled water and drive engagement via social media.
Several high profile chefs and restaurateurs have already signed up to join the initiative, including Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers, Richard H Tuner of Hawksmoore, Foxlow and Meatopia restaurants and Raymond Blanc, SRA president and chef patron of two Michelin starred restaurant Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxford.