Fresh Food

Driving profits with sustainable ingredients

Cristal retail baked goods
Photograph courtesy of Europastry

To many consumers, making environmentally sustainable choices is more important than ever. As concerns about the pandemic lessen, environmentally conscious consumers are reprioritizing their dedication to earth-friendly eating.

Whether dining in or ordering out, these consumers are voting with their dollars more and more. According to GreenPrint’s 2021 Business of Sustainability Index, almost two-thirds of Americans are willing to pay a premium for sustainable options, and 78 percent are more likely to purchase an offering that is clearly labeled as environmentally friendly.

In the wake of all the changes the industry has just been through, operators already have a lot on their plates. The need for straightforward solutions to promote sustainability will be key to meeting consumers’ demands while navigating the transition to the new normal.

Sustainability on the upswing

The push toward sustainable operations in the foodservice industry is undeniable. According to a recent Technomic survey, 73% of operators expect sustainability and social responsibility to take on a greater role over the next two years. This trend is leading a growing number of foodservice operators to focus more on plant-forward offerings and to seek ways to reduce food waste or to reassess packaging choices and the sustainability of the ingredients they buy.

Fortunately, not only do consumers continue to respond positively to operators’ efforts to “go green,” they are increasingly willing to pay for it. According to a 2020 report from New York University’s Center for Sustainable Business in partnership with IRI, consumers are willing to pay a premium of 39.5% for sustainability-marketed options, signifying a premium of 5.3 percentage points greater than in 2014.

Combine the fact that a focus on sustainability improves consumers’ overall perception of value with the fact that their concerns about sustainability are playing a growing role in where they decide to dine and it becomes evident that practices that are good for the earth can be good for margins, too.

Strategies that simplify

So how can operators keep up with the growing demand for sustainable products and practices without a major overhaul of operations? One popular strategy, which quickly became a necessity for many operators during the pandemic, is to tweak recipes to reduce the overall number of SKUs used across the menu, thereby reducing food waste and supporting sustainability efforts. Another solution is to work with a reliable supplier who can provide high-quality, sustainably sourced ingredients to substitute current products with sustainable alternatives. This simple swap can simultaneously increase the quality and sustainability quotient in an operators’ dishes.

Chefs all across the country spec California dairy products for this reason. Real cheese, butter and other dairy products made from 100% California milk offer restaurateurs the option of high-quality, sustainably sourced ingredients that make it easier than ever for them to adopt a sustainable mindset. The milk used in California dairy products is produced using the nation’s leading sustainability practices, resulting in a product that both foodservice operators and their consumers can rely on. As the number one dairy state, California provides a consistent source of quality, sustainable dairy. California dairy farms continue to reduce their impact on the environment through a number of efforts, including working with industry to capture methane and turn it into renewable natural gas as a replacement for diesel fuel and upcycling byproducts of food and fiber production into quality feed for cows. California dairy farmers also make significant investments in sustainable practices that help preserve the land for generations to come.   

“Our state’s focus on sustainability makes California dairy products a popular choice for chefs, and dairy offers endless versatility across dayparts, menu parts and cuisine types,” says Jennifer Giambroni, VP of Communications for the California Milk Advisory Board. “Greater versatility means less food goes to waste even amid fluctuations in demand. The same mozzarella cheese, for example, can be served with eggs, shredded onto pizzas and pastas or fried for a craveable appetizer or snack. Even the rinds of certain cheeses can be used to infuse flavor into soups and sauces, making them a zero-waste ingredient.”

And for the many consumers looking for more plant-forward offerings, dairy products such as cheese and yogurt offer approachable, affordable protein alternatives to keep vegetarian dishes satisfying and craveable. According to Giambroni, “A quality California cheese can amp up the flavor factor of plant-forward dishes in seconds—which gives margins a boost, too.”

When it comes to adopting environmentally friendly practices to increase sustainability and boost sales, operators don’t have to compromise. With California dairy products, making the environmentally friendly choice doesn’t come at the cost of quality, convenience or big flavor. In the crucial months ahead, that’s a win for operators and their consumers—and the planet, too.

For more information, along with trend-forward, chef-developed recipes using real California dairy, visit realcaliforniamilk.com/foodservice.

This post is sponsored by Europastry

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