Even in the wake of the pandemic, diners are increasingly aware of the need for sustainable practices, both inside and outside of the kitchen. As the demand grows for the world to move toward a greener, more sustainable future, there are initiatives like the US Foods® Hungry For Better program supporting restaurant operators in this effort. But it comes down to individual restaurants to do their part and to ensure diners are fully aware of their efforts. Incorporating sustainable practices into the restaurant space can be advantageous for many reasons. Not only does it help the planet, but it can also help support local communities, promote trust with diners, and meet a growing demand for sustainable foods and waste-reducing practices that consumers are willing to pay more for at restaurants. But that can only happen if diners are aware of what steps a restaurant is taking towards sustainability. One simple and advantageous place for restaurants to start being transparent about the sustainable practices and principles they implement is with the restaurant’s website.
Add a sustainability statement to your website
First and foremost, sustainability statements are the easiest way for restaurants to highlight their stance on how they are implementing sustainable practices in their operations, from how they work to reduce waste to what ingredients are used on their menu. This transparency benefits the restaurant by creating trust with consumers. Restaurants can simply do this by including a statement in the “About” section, like Spike’s Fish House in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, does.
Spike’s Fish House highlights their Sustainability Statement on its website
Not only does Spike’s Fish House clearly state their dedication to only using sustainable seafood on their menu, they explain why they’ve made that sourcing decision. Their website also highlights the ways in which they are looking out for the well-being of their diners, with gluten-free options and nutritional benefits of their seafood offerings.
Many restaurants also choose to prominently add their mission to sustainability to the main navigation or footer of their website for curious visitors to easily find.
List sustainable ingredient sources on YOUR website and menu
Another way for restaurants to showcase where they stand on sustainability is by listing the sustainable suppliers they partner with – and the sustainable sourcing behind the ingredients on their menus. Highlighting these sources further cultivates trust between the restaurant and consumers, knowing that the restaurant is dedicated to supporting sustainability and communicating where their food comes from.
If a restaurant is actively purchasing sustainable ingredients, like organic produce or animal proteins raised without antibiotics, and does not make this sourcing clear on their menu and website, diners will have no clue about the efforts the restaurant is making to put these benefits on the plate. Not only does this not help build trust with consumers looking for sustainability, but restaurants could also be losing out on profits from using sustainable ingredients.
By communicating sustainable sourcing, restaurants could justify charging a premium – and diners are willing to pay for it. 88% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable seafood, and 75% of diners are willing to pay up to 13% more for non-GMO items. Animal proteins raised without antibiotics can command a 20% higher price point (Technomic, 2018). Not clearly communicating these sustainable benefits leaves missed profit opportunities at the table, so it’s important for restaurants to use the right sustainable keywords on their menu and website.
Seedz Café in Steamboat Springs, CO, is dedicated to using sustainable ingredients whenever possible, highlighting organic produce, sustainable seafood and animal care products on their menu. They not only make this mission clear on their website and branding, but they note on every menu item what sustainable ingredients were used. Whether it’s “nitrate-free bacon,” “poached organic eggs,” “wild-caught salmon,” or “seared non-GMO tofu,” the Seedz menu uses these keywords to show their ingredient sourcing with full transparency, because they know it’s what their diners want to see.
Similarly, if a restaurant is dedicated to local sourcing of ingredients, this should also be highlighted on the restaurant’s website. In the example below, Morgan River Grill in St. Helena Island, SC, lists the farms they source their ingredients from.
Morgan River Grill lists the local farms they source on their website
By communicating your local sourcing on your website and menu, you can also demonstrate to your diners your commitment to supporting your community. This transparency also helps tell the story behind your food, so diners can understand and appreciate what it takes to get from field to fork.
Showcase important certifications, awards and sustainable community initiatives
Last but not least, restaurants can use their website to highlight certifications and awards they’ve received due to their dedication to sustainable practices. The Preacher’s Son, in Bentonville, AR, does just that through the “About” section on their website. They highlight their receiving of the Food Loop’s Closed Loop Gold Level award, for which recipients must submit and pass a 100-point review process that ranges from food waste collection to proper recycling.
The Preacher’s Son promotes their Food Loop’s Closed Loop Gold Level award online
Restaurants should also feature on their website any additional initiatives that contribute to a more sustainable community. It’s-A-Burger!, with two Texas locations, not only operates as a space where diners can “relax from their own hard work and enjoy a burger,” but it’s also part of a bigger initiative through the restaurant’s owner. The Shiloh Field Community Garden is the largest of its kind in the United States which contributes to greater access to clean, sustainable produce for restaurants and the citizens of Denton, TX alike. The restaurant highlights the history of this initiative in the “Community Garden” section of its website.
It’s-A-Burger! highlights its community garden on the website.
All marketing channels should lead back to the website
It doesn’t just end at the website when showcasing sustainability efforts. Restaurants then must find ways to include it in their marketing message, which further contributes ways to capitalize on sustainability's popularity and forges trust with diners.
Whether restaurants are using Instagram, Facebook or marketing emails to promote their sustainability practices, they should reference and link guests back to their website to learn more. Potential diners can read up on their sustainable activities, and the partnerships and collaborations they’ve made with sustainable suppliers or local farmers, and show off certifications and awards. All of this with the goal of creating trust and interest with diners, to turn them into paying customers and loyal fans, working together to make the world a better – and tastier – place.
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