Posts Tagged ‘trends’

Sustainability is in, finally. The 2010 “What’s Hot” forecast is out from the National Restaurant Association and sustainability dominated the top trends.

I don’t really like the word “trend” for sustainability because I think resource conscious operations is a sensible, long-term business practice, and not a trend. However, the forecast is for “What’s Hot,” and some of the things on the list will go the way of the Dodo.

Sustainability in general ranked in at number three with local produce, locally sourced meats and locally produced beer and wine in the top five, sustainable seafood in the top ten and organic produce and artisan spirits in the top twenty. Many of the remaining top vote getters had a sustainable twist to them like farm-branded ingredients, “simplicity/back to basics” and non-traditional fish, which I equate to sustainable seafood. The overall theme for the top trends is obviously in line with consumer trends of healthier, more environmentally conscious eating habits. Of course what we say and what we do are two different things as the US is still the fattest country in the world and getting fatter every day…

Regardless, having been pushing for sustainability in the restaurant industry for several years, it is nice to see sustainability taking hold. Even though some of the same trends like organic and local produce made it on the 2009 list, it seems restaurants chefs and owners have realized the benefits of sustainable practices. We need to make sure that sustainability remains standard practice rather than a trend since restaurants are the most energy intensive commercial businesses in the US, and tend to produce a lot more waste than the average business. I’ve seen the trend coming and hope 2010 is a banner year for green restaurants. Maybe next year sustainable foodservice consultants will make the top twenty…


Campus Dining Trends

Author: Paul

One of the big things in campus cafeterias the last couple years has been trayless dining. Several hundred college foodservice operations removed trays from their dining facilities, and left the students to eat what they could carry. The initial programs were a huge success, and continue to be widely popular. Rightly so. Campus foodservice operations are seeing anywhere from a 20-50% reduction in food and beverage waste, which makes a big contribution to the bottom line of the facility and the environment. Less food is wasted therefore less food needs to be prepped, which means less labor, lower energy bills, less dishes, and less hot water not to mention smaller waste hauling bills. It’s basically a win, win, win for the operations.

Foodservice management companies like Aramark and Sodexho are rolling out trayless programs in the majority of their campuses, and it is predicted that the majority of schools nationwide will be trayless in the next several year. In a survey conducted by Aramark in 2008, 79% of the 92,000 students surveyed said they support trayless dining programs. One university chef I spoke with said the majority of people that complained when they took away the trays were the university staff. Maybe the colleges could hire some local waiters to teach the students and staff how to carry multiple plates without spilling anything…

So what is the next big thing for non-commercial foodservice? While many organizations are opting for biodegradable products, I personally think reusable take-out containers are going to be the next step for non-commercial operations interested in reducing their environmental footprint.

eco-takeoutUp until a few years ago there was not a commercial, reusable take-out container on the market. That is until Eckerd College student, Audrey Copeland came up with the idea for one. While a sophomore at Eckerd, Audrey audited the foodservice program’s use of Styrofoam take-out containers and decided there should be a more sustainable option. Over the next several years she wrote a grant to fund a pilot reusable container program, contracted a company to produce the container, helped design the products and created a program for her college to implement the containers into their foodservice operations. She is now the Sustainable Products Manager for G.E.T., the company that manufactures the “Eco-Takeouts,” and has introduced the containers to Bon-Appetit, Sodexho, Google, Nestle, various healthcare facilities, and Aramark, which made a commitment to introduce the container to 100 of its university accounts. My props to Audrey for single-handedly swaying a huge industry.

The containers are basically a poly-propylene clam shell container (though there are other styles available) that the students have the option of using for a $5 deposit. They then simply exchange the container for a clean one at no additional cost the next time they visit one of the foodservice options.

Again, these programs are showing a huge financial benefit for the foodservice operations, and lets the students dine anywhere they want without the “eco-guilt” of using another take-out container. Several facilities are achieving a 40% reduction in their use of take-out boxes, while other schools that made the containers mandatory for students living in the dorms are seeing nearly a 100% reduction in container use. 100% savings sounds good to me…