Survey Says Consumers More Likely To Visit 'Socially Responsible' Food Establishments

A new study by Chicago-based research firm Technomic done on the concept of social responsibility turned out some interesting results for both consumers and restaurant operators, with 63 percent of surveyed consumers saying they are more likely to visit a food-service operation they view as socially conscious. Meanwhile, 53 percent of operators said that having an “actionable social responsibility strategy” would be necessary to remain competitive in the next two years, according to the firm's results.

“Consumers now expect that the food-service venues they visit exhibit social consciousness and sustainability points, just like consumers are making the effort to do in their own lives,” said Wade Hanson, a principal with Technomic and the director of the study.

The study, the first Technomic has conducted on the issues of social responsibility and sustainability, asked food-service consumers, operators and suppliers to rank 35 factors related to sustainability and social responsibility, ranging from the humane treatment of animals and conservation to community involvement.

Ranking high in importance among consumers were such factors as safe restaurant workplaces and recycling programs, which are generally easier concepts to understand than, say, carbon footprints, according to Hanson.

Surprisingly, consumers did not value local sourcing as highly as operators say they do, Technomic found. Late last year, chefs surveyed by the National Restaurant Association put “local” and “local-sourcing” at the top of their trend lists.

“Out of that long list of things that we asked about, local sourcing, local farming, local growing – those were further down the list,” Hanson said. “I think we had anticipated that those would be something that consumers would tie back into the benefit for their local communities and that sort of thing, but yet it ranked lower on the list."

To read more, including an interview with Hanson about the survey, click HERE.

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