Diners willing to pay premium for sustainable takeout

Sustainable food is increasingly a focus of discussion for the food industry and the general public, and it seems it is top of mind for diners when it comes to ordering takeout, too.

According to Deliverect data cited by Restaurant Dive, more than four in 10 (43 per cent of) diners would be willing to pay more for their takeout meal if the restaurant and the food prioritized sustainability efforts.

That is despite nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of consumers saying that they believe that sustainable eating is more expensive. Nearly half (47 per cent) would consider changing what they order from the menu to be more sustainable.

In addition, more than half (56 per cent) of diners say they want restaurants to be more transparent about their eco-friendly efforts. 

RELATED: Food waste equals wasted opportunity for Canada’s food sector

There are particular concerns around food waste and packaging. Nearly three-quarters of consumers (73 per cent) want to be given accurate portion sizes to avoid unnecessary waste, while 68 per cent say that restaurants should have processes in place to avoid waste.

Meanwhile, most consumers (54 per cent) prefer to order from restaurants that don’t use excess packaging for delivery, and a similar proportion (56 per cent) feel the same about restaurants using eco-friendly packaging. A recent report from Cargill found that 55 per cent of consumers said they are more likely to purchase a packaged food item if it includes a sustainability claim.

RELATED: Transparency, affordability & sustainability top food priorities for Canadians

The survey also asked consumers what type of sustainability claims they were looking for. At the top of the list were “sustainably sourced” and “conservation of natural resources”, ahead of others such as Fair Trade, reduced packaging, and fair/living wages for producers and workers.

Such is the desire to find sustainable restaurants that Yelp is aiming to help businesses meet this demand with a new Sustainability Resource Hub that helps educate operators on how to make better environmental choices. Businesses can also display on their Yelp Page whether they offer plastic-free packaging, reusable tableware, a bring-your-own-container option, and the use of compostable packaging, among other things.

Finally, many diners are also turning to plant-based products in their hunt to help the planet. Yelp data showed that searches for “plant-based concepts” jumped by 56 per cent over the three years from 2018 to 2021.