In 2008, the No. 1 trend among chefs was local produce, according to the “What’s Hot” survey released by the National Restaurant Association.
The study found that 89 percent of fine-dining operators serve locally sourced items, and 9 in 10 believe demand for locally sourced items will grow in their segment in the future. Some 70 percent of adults say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally produced food items.
The research also found that restaurateurs will also continue to show increasing leadership in becoming “greener” in 2009—by taking action such as reducing energy and water use—in step with patrons’ interest in environmental issues. About four in 10 full-service restaurant operators and nearly 3 in 10 quick-service operators say they plan to devote more of their 2009 budgets to green initiatives.
Restaurant patrons like the idea: 44 percent of respondents said they are likely to make a restaurant choice based on an operation’s practices in the areas of energy and water conservation.
Companies such as Chipotle and Dunkin Donuts have introduced various green initiatives like green cutlery or trying out climate control systems. The Green Restaurant Association also has a guide (PDF) to help restaurateurs to green their products.