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 — 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 (for example, 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 Behaviors: 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 food service 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 food service operations.”


More information about the Diners’ Changing Behaviors report can be found by visiting The Hartman Group’s website:

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.

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