The importance of sustainability to pubgoers

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

How important is sustainability to consumers?

Related tags Sustainability Social responsibility Branding + marketing

Consumers are putting sustainability at the top of their agenda when choosing where and what to eat, research has shown
  • Want to know more about boosting your sustainability credentials? Watch our free webinar all about being more environmentally friendly here​.

Lumina data revealed the total proportion of dishes containing meat fell from 2019 to 2022. According to its Menu Tracker Tool​, the proportion during autumn/winter three years ago was 36% but for the same period last year, was 31%.

Furthermore, vegetable-based dishes have grown in their share of pub occasion with many operators adding new items on menus to tap into this growing demand, according to the insight firm’s Eating & Drinking Out Panel​.

Butternut squash is among the favourite additions on menus with it being a good alternative to meat and attracts consumers who are more health led.

Meanwhile, YouGov recently polled​ around 2,000 UK adults and asked if environmental sustainability played a part in their decisions when it came to food.

Most (41%) said a fair amount – this was up marginally when compared to the same question being asked in 2019 when 39% gave the same answer.

Moreover, research from the Sustainability Matters: What consumers want and how brands can win​ report from foodservice tech provider Nutritics and hospitality data firm CGA by NiQ showed more than a third of Brits (34%) were happy to spend more money on sustainable options when eating at pubs and bars.

Greener choices

Conscious choices

Molson Coors Beverage Company corporate affairs director, Western Europe Kate Macnamara said:

“We are all making changes to how we operate to become more environmentally friendly because it is the right thing to do for our planet and communities. But becoming more resource and energy efficient is good for your business as well as the planet – and not just when it comes to reducing overheads.

“We know people are more interested than ever before in sustainability and are making conscious choices because of it.

“That’s why it’s important to communicate about your efforts to make your pub more sustainable – creating more awareness among your customers by sharing information on menus, apps or at the bar, but also making sure your staff understand and are a part of those efforts. It is hugely engaging for staff and it also helps them to be able to talk about it with customers.

“But the onus isn’t all on you. Why not find out what your suppliers are doing to be more sustainable? By stocking brands from suppliers that are working to cut their carbon emissions, you’re effectively cutting your own. Ultimately operating in a more environmentally friendly way is something we all have to work towards across our beer and pub industry – we are all in this together.”

It also revealed Generation Z and Millennials were most likely to splash out on greener choices (47%).

The report, which surveyed 5,000 UK hospitality consumers, found 70% of consumers were actively trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle while a third (34%) didn’t think brands were doing enough to communication their carbon footprint.

Furthermore, the survey stated 44% of participants said sustainability was important in their choice of venue to visit and a similar proportion (41%) said carbon footprints on menus would influence their order.

Brewfitt managing director Curtis Paxman said: “Consumers' attitudes towards sustainability have significantly evolved in recent years. Today, they are more environmentally conscious than ever, and this awareness extends to their experiences in the hospitality sector.

"As global sustainability awareness grows, consumers actively seek businesses that share their values. This shift underscores the importance of sustainable choices, even while dining out or visiting favourite venues.

"However, for hospitality businesses, striking a balance between sustainability, managing costs and preserving exceptional customer experiences is a complex and delicate challenge. It requires thoughtful consideration and innovation.

"The changing consumer attitudes towards sustainability in hospitality signal an exciting era of transformation. This highlights the importance of companies like Brewfitt leading the way in finding innovative solutions that maintain exceptional customer experiences while making significant strides in sustainability.

"By staying attuned to these evolving sentiments and embracing sustainability, Brewfitt remains dedicated to assisting the industry in creating a more environmentally responsible and customer-centric future.”

One pub that has won awards for its sustainability credentials is the Riverside at Aymestrey in Herefordshire.

Part of its environmental focus is the creation of its community green fund, which supports nearby initiatives.

The pub has a voluntary donation for every table of £1.50 where money is donated to local causes such as school projects to improve wildlife and ecology and it has also previously been given to local parish councils to plant trees and improve their wildlife and environmental impact.

Positive environmental impact

“The aim is to offset all the carbon our restaurant produces and hopefully become carbon zero,” the pub’s chef-patron Andy Link said.

“That last year alone raised £15,000. The main aim is to have a really positive environmental impact but what it’s also enabled us to do is to create a PR campaign, which helps us support and link with community groups and all the other local businesses in the area and really do something that have a positive change.

“That for us has been a really big leap in creating a really good brand and a great sustainable image.”

The impact of the voluntary charge has been positive from a customer point of view and Link outlined its effect on the business’ reputation.

He added: “By creating a good pub and restaurant experience, guests also feel good when they have been here. That is important because it’s easy to greenwash and say you’re doing the most sustainable things and then reference that but people are very aware of it now.

“People want to choose businesses where they feel good once they have been there and think ‘I’ve really enjoyed myself’ but equally by dining or drinking with us, they are also saying ‘that’s something positive I’ve done today’.

“More people are choosing venues based on sustainability, it’s become a key driver in where people choose to eat and drink.

“The community donation really drove it to our local audience and made sure they were championing us as much as we were championing them.”

  • The Morning Advertiser has launched the Green Initiative, which is supported by Molson Coors Beverage Company and Brewfitt.​​

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