Consumers have long made food choices based on personal values to some degree, but after a disastrous 2020 filled with media images of super storms, flooding and wildfires, one issue comes to the forefront: Climate change.
According to recent research by Datassential, climate change is now the third most-important socio-political issue on consumers’ minds, after healthcare and the economy, with 38% of survey respondents ranking it among top concerns. The issue is more often being referred to as a climate “crisis,” and experts say it’s only going to get worse.
Restaurants are taking note with creative labeling of items on their menu with a low carbon footprint. Panera and Chipotle Mexican Grill, for example, are giving guests guidance on dishes on their respective menus that are better for the planet.
Panera partnered with the World Resources Institute to label ingredients with a “Cool Food Meals” badge — a tool available to all restaurants. Burger King is testing lower-carbon-footprint beef. And Starbucks pledged to be “resource positive,” meaning it would put more resources into the environment than it takes out, reducing the chain’s water, waste and carbon emissions by 2030 with moves like adding more plant-based beverages to the menu.
Independent restaurants, meanwhile, will continue to lead the way with efforts like composting, supporting farmers who practice regenerative agriculture and waste reduction, with organizations like ZeroFoodPrint helping consumers find restaurants that care about the planet.