What consumer research reveals about diners’ desire for sustainable dining

To understand better the demand for sustainable dining post-lockdown, we commissioned a consumer survey. In total 1,031 active diners from across the UK, between 21-23 September, told us about their eating our habits, their interest in the environment (before and after lockdown) and their willingness to translate their theoretical interest in sustainable food into positive decision about where and what to eat. 

First up we asked them how often they eat out. 

76% said they ate out up to four times a month pre-lockdown 

75% said they were planning to return to that level of frequency 

Then we asked them about their attitude towards environmental issues such as climate change and deforestation, before and after lockdown. 

65% said they were now concerned or very concerned – up from 47% pre-lockdown.  

We asked consumers to tell us how they rated the importance of five sustainability issues when eating out now. 

60% said it was important or very important that the restaurant championed high standards of animal welfare 

59% said it was important or very important that the menu us designed to minimise food waste 

52% said it was important or very important that the menu focuses on local and seasonal produce 

43% said it was important or very important the restaurant practises nose to tail cooking 

37% said it was important or very important that the menu includes a wide range of plant-based dishes 

To see how that theoretical interest in sustainable food issues we asked how likely consumer would be to order dishes that tackled those issues. 

79% said they would consider, be quite likely or very keen to order a dish made using seasonal substitutes like guacamole made from broad beans instead of avocado 

73% said they would consider, be quite likely or very keen to order a dish featuring ‘waste’ ingredients like veggie peel crisps or carrot top pesto 

75% said they would consider, be quite likely or very keen to order a dish where some of the meat had been replaced with vegetables like a beef burger in which some of the beef was replaced with lentils 

82% said they would consider, be quite likely or very keen to order a dish featuring less common cuts of meat like flank instead sirloin or neck instead of lamb 

To see how far diners would go to act on their increased environmental interest, we asked them whether, if they what a restaurant’s most environmentally friendly dish was, they would order it over their usual choice? 

Almost two thirds of these concerned consumers (63%) said they’d be likely or very likely to try a restaurant’s most sustainable dish over their regular favourite, if they knew what it was.  

Finally, we asked what actions our consumers would like restaurants to take to make them more sustainable.   

  • 57% want outlets to source from at least one local farmer or fisherman 
  • 57% also want to be able to take their leftovers home. 
  • 30% would like at least half the dishes to be vegetarian 
  • 31% would like meat dishes in reduced portion sizes 

If you’d like to find out what you can do as either a concerned consumer or an eco-conscious chef, read this

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