Survey: Consumers will pay more for local, sustainable


Diners may not select a restaurant based on its offering of local or sustainable fare, but they might be willing to pay more for such dishes, a survey by Mintel International found this week.

When it comes to deciding where to dine out, most consumers, or 74 percent of those surveyed by Chicago-based Mintel, base their decision on what’s on the restaurant’s menu, while 69 percent said “price” and 67 percent said “convenience” were driving factors.

Only 7 percent said the offer of local/organic and sustainable ingredients drove their restaurant choice, according to the survey, which included about 1,906 respondents aged 18 and over.

“Green and sustainable attributes pale in comparison to the leading restaurant decision drivers of menu selection, prices and convenient location,” said Eric Giandelone, Mintel’s foodservice director. “However, these initiatives support the leading attributes to help a restaurant stand apart and will become more important as the green movement continues to progress.”

Women were more likely than men to pay attention to a restaurant’s green and sustainable practices, especially on the menu, the report found.

However, consumers define “green and sustainable” practices differently.

While responses varied somewhat by age, income and gender, most of those surveyed, about 60 percent, said having a recycling program was a “green and sustainable” practice.

Just over 50 percent said using reusable/compostable packaging fit the definition, and 40 percent said use of organic ingredients, followed by energy-saving initiatives/LEED certification, 37 percent; use of local ingredients, 37 percent; and having a low-carbon footprint, 35 percent.

Lower on the ranking of “green and sustainable” practices, according to the survey, were offering living wages, fair trade concerns and the offer of company-provided health insurance — only 6 percent of respondents consider the latter a “green and sustainable” issue.

Mintel found that slightly more than half of those surveyed, or 57 percent, said they were willing to pay more for local and sustainable food. Still, most said they weren’t willing to pay much more.

Of those, 34 percent said they’d only pay 1 percent to 5 percent more, which, the report noted, “is likely to barely cover the extra costs associated with these products.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout