Diners Prefer Meals That are Healthier and Better for the Environment


Sustainability takes on greater cultural weight, new report finds; diners’ preferences for healthy and sustainable food linked to opportunities for restaurants and food service operators 

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON–The pursuit of a consumer-driven demand for higher-quality food and beverage experiences is now diffusing from supermarket aisles into a broader range of restaurant formats and food service settings. 

Food culture and eating norms are changing dramatically. 

“Just as people now shop at an array of food retailers seeking new experiences and flavors such as local, organic, natural and fresh distinctions, so too do they look for those experiences while eating out,” said Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group. “Although traditional dining habits persist (e.g., in the minds of diners, eating out remains tied to celebration), consumers have outsourced food preparation and now eat out as a daily habit. When that new behavior is paired with our ongoing cultural fascination with global flavors, diet and health, we see greater demand for menus with fresh, healthy and sustainable options.”

These changes in food culture occur at the same time that food service operators face new challenges and unprecedented risks as food and beverage supply chains become more brittle due to numerous environmental, social and economic influences.

According to a new report, “Diners’ Changing Behavior: Sustainability, Wellness and Where to Eat” by The Hartman Group and Changing Tastes, dining habits are converging to include a heightened interest in sustainable menu options.

  • 42 percent of respondents indicated that they are receptive to sustainable and healthy possibilities within a wide range of restaurant and food service settings.
  • Sustainable-receptive diners are more frequent diners, eating out an average of 18 occasions a month in 6 different channels, compared to others who eat out 14 occasions a month.
  • Sustainable-receptive diners are also more likely to be Millennials, with children, more affluent, urban and ethnically diverse.
  • Sustainable-receptive diners are health-focused and motivated to make what they believe are smarter eating choices, and many recognize the health benefits of making sustainable food choices. 

“Today, restaurant and foodservice companies have to navigate unprecedented changes both in the cost of food and the values of the dining public, which now include their health and the health of the planet,” said Arlin Wasserman, Founding Partner, Changing Tastes. “This report provides key insights into how to successfully bring these together on the menu, in the dining hall, and in foodservice operations.” 

More information about the Diners’ Changing Behaviors report can be found by visiting The Hartman Group’s website: www.hartman-group.com 

About the Report

To understand the intersection of sustainability, health, nutrition and eating-out behaviors and how restaurant and food service operators can capitalize on potential opportunities, Diners’ Changing Behaviors used qualitative ethnographic and quantitative research methodologies. The research fielded December 2014 in the U.S. marketplace. 

About The Hartman Group

The Hartman Group is the premier food and beverage consultancy in the world. Companies and brands across all segments of the food and beverage industry benefit from our unparalleled depth of knowledge on consumers, culture, trends and demand-side market strategy. We listen closely to understand our clients business challenges and tailor solutions that deliver transformative results. Through a unique suite of integrated custom, primary research capabilities, market analytics, and business strategy services, we uncover opportunity spaces, avenues for growth and deliver more compelling insights that fuel inspiration and ideas for innovation. For more information, visit: www.hartman-group.com 

About Changing Tastes

Since our founding in 2003, Changing Tastes has helped clients achieve greater success by understanding and finding opportunities at the intersection of four key trends affecting the food and agriculture sector: public health, environmental sustainability, the changing role of the culinary profession, and demographics. We mobilize our expertise and our big-picture perspective to develop new strategy and support innovation that transform our clients’ approach and increase the scale of success for our clients, including Fortune 500 and FTSE 400 companies, professional and philanthropic investors and trade groups. For more information, visit: www.changingtastes.net

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