\u201cRestaurant owners cannot afford not to address sustainability. It just makes sense. If you're not looking at your energy use, you're not tracking your food waste and if you don't have data on your company, you can't really be successful, because you don't know what's happening at the customer level,\u201d says Laura Kirwan, sustainability lead at Nutritics.\r\n\r\nA recent report from Nutritics and CGA found that over a third of restaurant and pub goers in the UK were more likely to spend more than usual in venues with strong sustainability credentials. The study also found that nearly half of Gen Z and millennials were likely to spend more in a sustainable venue.\r\n\r\nThis shows us that there is an increasing demand from the general public for sustainability when eating out. Kirwan discusses why this is the case, why restaurants must keep up with this and what they can do not only to become more sustainable but to advertise what they are doing to potential customers.\r\n\r\nWhy does sustainability matter to customers?\r\n\r\nThe simplest answer to this question is that the world is finally seeing the consequences of climate change and this is bringing sustainability to the forefront of people\u2019s minds. As Kirwan explains, recent climate disasters such as floods and extreme heat in the UK have caused people to care more about their environmental impact.\r\n\r\nAlongside this, however, is a push not just from customers but from regulatory boards and from investors and shareholders. Kirwan believes that people higher up than customers are beginning to see the impacts of the climate crisis and this will lead to restaurants having to adapt.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere's a lot of push not only from consumers, as their knowledge increases, but also from higher ups. I think stakeholders, boards and investors have seen the risk from climate disasters and have seen the business risk if they don't address it. They've also seen the risk to brand reputation if they don't start addressing sustainability challenges.\r\n\r\n\u201cI think the UN Global Compact came out and said that non-sustainable businesses will not exist in the future. So in order to stay on the market and also stay relevant to their consumers they have to address this,\u201d she states.\r\n\r\nWhat can restaurants do to keep up?\r\n\r\nIf going sustainable is inevitable to keep up in the current market then there will be many owners of restaurants who are unsure of what to do or where to start. Kirwan says that it is a simple process to start. Focusing on things like cutting down on single-use plastics and food waste can be easy ways of becoming more sustainable while also streamlining your business.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat they need to do is just start looking at it from an environmental perspective. I'd recommend not starting from scratch. Look at what you already have in house, identify your hotspots, your supply chain, where you are on the responsible procurement journey,\u201d she explains.\r\n\r\nMany doubters of the sustainability drive will state that this is all well and good but they may believe they can not afford to do this, especially in the current economic climate where inflation and energy bills are heavily cutting into profit margins. However, Kirwan states that this is the perfect opportunity to start as it will help them to cut costs.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe've seen the rise in inflation and energy bills which have increased the cost of running a restaurant. But if you're not investing in technology or software, which tracks energy use and the environmental impact of your menus, then you\u2019re missing out. I think if you invest in sustainability software and technology to be able to track waste and get data insights on your supply chain on your menu, what's selling, what's not selling, what's been wasted, you\u2019re cutting costs and that it definitely offsets the investment,\u201d she says.\r\n\r\nHow to show off your sustainability work?\r\n\r\nMany restaurants at this point will have invested in becoming more sustainable but without a way to shout about it all that hard work could go to waste. The owners of restaurants need ways to show the public that they are being sustainable so that they are able to take advantage of this trend.\r\n\r\nKirwan believes that the best way to show this off is cold hard data. According to her, restaurants must have numbers to back up what they are saying about their sustainability and these numbers must be presented to customers in a digestible way.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou can't be rolling out generic sustainability campaigns across all your sites. I think data insights are really important so businesses must do customer surveys and invest in software that allows messaging to be done really effectively.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou could have digital screens or QR codes on your menu to be able to tell your sustainability journey in a way that's not going to scare people and that people will understand even if they have no education in it,\u201d Kirwan explains.\r\n\r\nIf restaurants want to survive in this day and age and into the future they have to become more sustainable but also be able to show customers that they are doing so in a way that feels authentic.