Sustainability is becoming increasingly relevant in restaurateurs’ and retailers’ day-to-day operations. Why is that, Lena?
Among consumers, awareness of environmental and social issues that are connected with sustainable development is growing all the time. They have changed their consumer behaviour and expectations, and perhaps even the way they live their lives – at home, while shopping and in restaurants. Despite this, or possibly for the very reason that it is so ubiquitous, food is one area where the desire to act responsibly is particularly noticeable. Consumers want a ‘good feeling’ about what they consume, and for their meals to reflect their attitude as well. But they need guidance. Food companies must adapt to these realities – in the interest of customer satisfaction, and thus their own business success, but also for the good of the environment. When they become more sustainable, they enhance their image with their customer base and also create opportunities to gain new customers. They offer added value and differentiate themselves from the competition.
A global concept, but no global recipe for success. Why not?
It’s because the degrees to which people understand sustainable living and responsible business operations are vastly different the world over, and so are the challenges and parameters. The impacts of non-sustainable behaviour patterns, for example, are not felt as strongly everywhere: In Germany, wasting water is not considered as gravely irresponsible as it is in a country like Australia. In addition, the opportunities that sustainable concepts unlock cannot be leveraged in the same way everywhere: Energy, water and waste-disposal infrastructure as well as access to food are very different – not just from country to country, but even regionally. These are the specific circumstances our customers face, which means they always need unique concepts as well, although there is usually a common denominator.
And that common denominator is?
We consume more than we have. If we keep on going this way, the planet will no longer be able to feed us. That impacts us all. With our companies, whose core businesses mean they rely on food, we can affect real change in our communities if we use our resources wisely.
Why is this issue particularly important to METRO?
Because it’s relevant to our customers, as it concerns their customers in turn: Climate change and inequality are factors that are shaping our times, and they result in conflicts that young and future customers are not willing to accept. If you also consider that 1 in 3 meals is eaten outside the home, it is clear how vast the potential is if we start right there. We also see this in the various stakeholder requests from investors and NGOs that stand up for particular causes, which show us that sustainability is growing ever more important. And of course we see it in the demand for our product range, too.
What is METRO doing to help customers?
My colleagues and I developed ‘My Sustainable Restaurant’, a how-to guide that shows them how and where they can put sustainable concepts in the hospitality industry. You could call it our basic answer in the search for the common denominator. As the restaurateurs’ partner, we offer concrete solutions that can be individually adapted to the degree of maturity in the company or in society – including environmentally and socially friendly products and services. There are tips for recruitment, avoiding food waste, reducing trash, implementing energy-saving measures and offering regional products.