Driven by both customer demand and by forward-thinking industry leaders, 2016 ushered in a year of major change for the hospitality industry. Arguably the most impactful trend of the past 12 months was the movement towards responsible food consumption and sourcing, which translated into an increased focus on animal welfare and the environment. Influenced by growing concerns about climate change and heightened interest from consumers around where their food comes from, the industry responded in a major way, with everyone from multinational producers to homegrown chains taking action and implementing new practices.
While the industry’s focus on taking a more ethical approach to food is not exactly new, 2016 was the year that it became mainstream. We observed a significant shift in the market as companies of all stripes committed to making large-scale changes related to animal welfare and sustainability. Just a few months ago, McDonald’s announced that all of its coffee will be sustainably sourced by 2020. As only 37% of its beans currently come from sustainable sources, this is quite a bold pledge for a company of its size to achieve in just four years!
Ethical sourcing of animal food byproducts came into focus this year when Earls Restaurants declared it would purchase only certified humane beef raised without antibiotics, added hormones or steroids (later deciding to source from within Canada wherever possible). Other major industry players made similar decisions throughout the year, with the most recent being global food processing giant Nestle’s commitment to use only cage-free eggs in all its Canadian food products by 2025. These companies followed in the footsteps of A&W, which committed back in 2012 to sourcing only beef raised without added hormones or steroids, along with pork and chicken raised without antibiotics.
Beyond the supply chain, this year also saw substantial menu changes as restaurants responded to increased consumer demand for humanely raised animals, and for more (and better) vegetarian options. Dining establishments of all sorts started replacing token vegetarian items with more creative plant-based dishes, while meat-eating clientele appreciated the fact that more and more restaurants began sourcing humanely raised animals. From premium burger joints to trendy steakhouses and beyond, restaurants recognized the profits to be had by catering to customers with various dietary preferences, rather than overlooking them.
As a passionate animal advocate who has worked in all facets of hospitality for 25 years, I find it encouraging to see the industry putting the welfare of animals and the environment at the forefront of their decision-making process. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also makes sense from a business perspective. Customers are voting with their dollars, choosing to purchase from and dine at establishments that prioritize ethical food sourcing and put an emphasis on plant-based eating options. If you’re interested in finding out how your business can do the same, we would be happy to help! Here are just a few of the things we can do for you:
- Help you source ingredients that speak to your specific ideals
- Find local suppliers to work with
- Work with you to determine when purchasing local is best, and where to get the best value
- Review your carbon footprint and identify where you can reduce energy consumption
- Determine where you can replace existing packaging and supplies with eco-friendly alternatives
- Teach you how to promote the best practices you already have in place
Drop us a line or give us a call so we can arrange time to speak with you about moving your business in the right direction!