A majority (63%) of consumers say they’d like to eat healthy all or most of the time.
That’s why a growing number of restaurants are focusing on sustainability and farm-fresh ingredients. By doing so, they appeal to more customers and increase their revenue-earning potential.
“Farm to table” is the term that describes this movement, and embracing it could be just the thing your establishment needs to bring in more business.
In this article, we’ll cover the ins and outs of the farm-to-table movement and explore restaurant sustainability in general. Keep reading to learn how your company could benefit from a trend that’s more than likely here to stay.
What is farm to table, exactly?
Farm to table is a marketing term used to describe the type of food that a restaurant serves. When a restaurant describes itself as farm to table, it typically does so to emphasize its:
- Relationships with farmers
- Nutrient-dense ingredients
- Locally-sourced meats, vegetables, dairy products and wines
- Healthy cooking techniques
In that sense, farm-to-table is a catch-all term that’s meant to give consumers the impression that a restaurant serves healthy, fresh dishes.
What sustainability means in the restaurant industry
When a restaurant describes itself as sustainable, it means that it operates in ways that minimize its impact on the environment.
This can mean a lot of different things, but often includes:
- Environmentally-conscious packaging and to-go containers
- Ingredient usage that doesn’t deplete the environment of its natural resources
- Business practices that support the environment (such as minimizing paper and electricity consumption)
How embracing farm to table could help your restaurant
Becoming a farm-to-table restaurant could help your restaurant improve its business in a variety of ways. Here are four benefits that you could get out of embracing this trend.
Appeal to more customers with a healthier menu
More than 80% of customers say that healthy menu items influence their choice of restaurant to at least a certain extent.
When your restaurant can justifiably describe itself as farm to table, then there’s an immediate association that takes place in a consumer’s mind. They intuitively understand that they’re going to be able to find healthy options on your menu.
This could help you bring in more traffic and, ultimately, increase your bottom line.
Charge higher prices
You may also be able to increase your menu prices if you shift to a sustainable business model. Data shows that 60 to 70% of consumers are willing to pay up to 10% more for natural and ethical foods.
That means making this shift could also help to increase the average value of every customer that you see.
Strengthen the local economy
Though so much of the world is interconnected nowadays, every local region still has its local economic forces at work within it.
When small businesses in a region support one another, that tends to strengthen local economies. And when economies are stronger, customers have more money to spend on trips to restaurants.
Additionally, many customers will appreciate that your restaurant is playing a role in strengthening the local economy. That may make them more likely to choose your business over a competitor’s.
Attract a new type of customer
Customers who are especially environmentally conscious will prioritize going out to restaurants that practice the same beliefs.
That means if your restaurant develops a reputation for its sustainable business practices, you could build a following among a new category of clientele.
What does a farm-to-table restaurant look like?
If you’d like to become a farm-to-table restaurant, then it’s important to know what they look like. So here are four features that your restaurant can deploy to establish itself in this niche.
The way that a restaurant procures and uses ingredients is one of the best signs of whether or not it’s sustainable.
That’s why it’s a good idea for your company to begin using seasonal ingredients. Doing this will show your customers that you’re only using ingredients when they’re fresh enough to be procured locally.
Plus, it’ll give you a good reason to change up the dishes on your menu regularly. And when you continuously have new products to offer your customers, they have a good reason to keep coming back.
Farm names on your menu
Being a farm-to-table restaurant is all about showing your customers that the food they’re eating is from local sources. There isn’t a better way to do that than by attaching farm names to your menu.
For example, you might serve a steak dish. Instead of just listing the type of meat that you’re using, you could say “fresh flank steak from Manor Farms.”
Doing this solidifies the fact that your restaurant is operating locally and sustainably in your customers’ minds.
Growing some of your own produce
If you want to develop a reputation for being sustainable, you might also consider growing some of your own produce.
Of course, your ability to do this will be limited by the amount of space that you have. But even if your restaurant is tiny or you don’t have any outdoor space, you can still grow fresh herbs indoors.
Looking for and taking advantage of opportunities to reduce waste
Outside of the ingredients that you use, another big part of making a name as a sustainable restaurant is implementing sustainable business practices.
That means taking an honest look at your restaurant’s current practices and understanding how they impact the environment. If you can find some examples of this, then there’s a good chance that a more sustainable or environmentally-friendly alternative is available.
For example, you could use recyclable cardboard to-go containers instead of plastic ones. You could also look for opportunities to consume less water and electricity while preparing dishes and ingredients.
What sort of technologies make embracing sustainability easier to do?
Investing in the right technology can speed up your transition to becoming a farm-to-table restaurant. Here are three examples of technology you can leverage to achieve your sustainability goals.
Digital signage can completely replace all of your paper-based communications – both for your customers and your team.
You can use it to advertise your items, restaurant events and various communications without wasting paper to do so. And you can also leverage it to share important messages with your team while they work.
The best part is, you can display digital signage messages on your existing TV screens. So getting started with this technology could be as simple as picking the right digital signage software.
You may also be able to leverage your POS systems in more environmentally-friendly ways than you are now. It’s easier to do this when you combine your POS system with digital signage.
For example, your POS system can inform your team when an ingredient is running low. By integrating with digital signage, you could display that message to your back-of-house staff so that they can take action.
When you’re able to get ahead of ingredient prep in real-time like this, it reduces the amount of potential waste associated with over-preparing items like meats and vegetables.
You could also look at replacing your paper menus with digital alternatives. Most everyone has a smartphone now, and you can set up a system that allows them to scan a QR code at their table with their phones to see your menu.
This can reduce the amount of material that you consume to keep printing new menus when the old ones lose their form, and it can also help your company from a business perspective in a few ways.
First, it lets customers see your menus faster so that they can figure out what they’re going to order faster. That could help them get their food sooner than they would be able to otherwise.
Additionally, you can save money on materials if you’re not having to continuously reprint more and more menus. Over time, that could give you more funds to devote to staff training, purchasing higher-quality ingredients or investing in advertising.
If app downloads are important to your business, you can even encourage customers to download your app for your menus. Incentivize this behavior by teasing that they will receive an exclusive in-app coupon that they can apply to a future order.
UPshow makes it easier to bring sustainability to your company
Digital signage can facilitate a smooth transition for your company from where it’s at now to becoming a sustainable, farm-to-table restaurant.
UPshow provides digital signage software that makes this process easier. Our software has everything that you need to:
- Replace your paper-based advertisements and internal staff communications
- Entertain your customers
- Integrate with your POS system to implement more sustainable food prep practices
- Help position your brand as a trusted farm-to-table restaurant
If you’d like to achieve all of those things, then investing in UPshow could be just what you need to make it happen.