How operators can deliver on diners’ demands for sustainability

Photograph courtesy of New Wave Foods

Nowadays, customers care about the state of the environment even more than they have in the past.  According to First Insight’s recent report, three-quarters of Gen Z consumers said that sustainability was more important to them than the brand name when making purchase decisions.

College and university foodservice operators have their work cut out for them -- consumers in the C&U space expect and demand sustainability. Increasing plant-based meals and plant-based options easily caters to that demand. Plant-based alternatives have become table stakes for remaining competitive, regardless of supply chain issues or the hassle of menu overhauls. Here’s what operators need to know about consumer demands for sustainability—and how to meet those demands.

The demand for sustainability continues to grow

Desire for sustainable food choices continues to grow and intensify. 63% of consumers of all ages state that they would choose a plant-based alternative for ethical reasons, according to a Financial News Media article from March 2022. In fact, a staggering 90% of consumers are concerned about seafood sustainability, according to Datassential’s 2022 Environment Report. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) found, as part of their 2022 Food and Health Survey, that Gen Z demonstrates an even stronger concern for sustainable dining choices than older generations. Operators must address diners' needs and desires by using sustainable sources and suppliers, and then communicate that to diners.

Consumers will pay for more sustainable options

Compared to 18% in 2017, 27% of consumers overall said they would pay more for sustainable food products, according to Datassential’s 2022 Environment Report. Among younger consumers, 34% of Gen Z and 39% of Millennials said they'd pay more for sustainability. A tolerance for premium pricing, paired with increasing demand, and a high concern for seafood sustainability point to an easy solution and opportunity for operators -- plant-based shrimp.

Choosing the right foods to offer

Datassential's Foodbytes 2021 Trend Forecast noted that 70% of consumers eat shrimp, and as the #1 seafood consumed, shrimp dishes are a natural starting point for adding sustainable menu options.  Plant-based New Wave Shrimp, for instance, cooks just like ocean shrimp – fast and easy – but requires none of the messy, time-consuming prep that ocean shrimp does, making it a perfect replacement ingredient in any dish where shrimp is served hot. What’s more, just like ocean shrimp, it takes on just about any flavor, from globally inspired or spicy to classic lemon and herb. Whatever dish operators have in mind, plant-based shrimp from New Wave Foods fits the bill. With its simple, fast prep and versatility in dishes, the opportunities are endless.

As consumers -- particularly younger diners at colleges and universities -- continue to seek more sustainable food options, operators can respond with plant-based shrimp from New Wave Foods.  Visit to learn more.

This post is sponsored by New Wave Foods