A psychological study of 265 voluntary participants by the University of Würzburg in 2021 came to the conclusion that restaurant guests choose the meat-free variant of a dish more frequently if a coloured label shows the carbon footprint of the dish. Guests are definitely willing to engage with climate-related issues and choices and to make environmentally friendly decisions.
Regardless of what arrives on a guest’s plate, the food came from somewhere – and has been grown, fertilised, washed, packaged, transported, prepared and cooked. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but all this contributes to an extensive use of resources, and therefore leaves an imprint on the environment.
It’s this footprint that restaurateurs can illustrate on their menus with the help of various tools. One example is the place to v in Lenzen an der Elbe, which already does this as part of its sustainable gastronomy concept and has found it really worthwhile!
Why show CO2 values?
‘By putting CO2 values per dish on the menu, a restaurant becomes a trailblazer, and this guarantees the attention of guests and the press. There’ll come a time sooner or later when this topic can’t be avoided. So active environmental protection now is preferable so we can position ourselves as a sustainable company and win new guests,’ explains Jonas Mog, Managing Director of place to v. It’s also important to include employees in this from the start and to educate them.
How exactly does the calculation work?
Correctly calculating the carbon footprint of dishes is far from easy, as many different factors play a role – from production site and procedures to transportation routes and storage. However, there are average values for the manufacturing and transportation of food that restaurateurs can use for their calculations. A tip from Jonas Mog is to get some assistance, for example from ‘Eaternity’ or ‘KlimaTeller’. These organisations support restaurants in reducing their emissions. UK provider ‘My Emissions’ also offers a Food Carbon Footprint Calculator, which helps you calculate the emissions of dishes and recipes.
Doesn’t it look strange on the menu?
If you’re worried that CO2 information could overload the menu and get in the way of a certain look, emissions can be illustrated differently, for example using colours like in a traffic light system. Or the information can be more general and kept at the start of the menu to raise guests’ awareness of the values of certain products.
Doesn’t it give guests a guilty conscience?
Quite the opposite! The tactic demonstrates transparency and offers guests a glimpse into the preparation of their order and an awareness of their consumption. Furthermore, the information is a perfect starting point for conversations with guests, as Jonas Mog knows. ‘There’s nothing better than a discussion with guests that’s more than just small talk that barely scratches the surface but is an opportunity for a valuable exchange of ideas.’
Profitability and sustainability - do they go together? Yes, especially in the gastronomy sector, very well indeed. What does a sustainable menu look like? How can products be purchased responsibly? Which levers can restaurateurs use to further reduce their food losses? Where can energy efficiency be further increased? In order to support restaurateurs with their sustainability goals and to show them implementation possibilities while at the same time operating more profitably, METRO provides the digital guide "My Sustainable Restaurant". The interactively designed platform offers background information and shows the opportunities that arise from sustainability measures - such as saving costs or retaining employees and guests.
Climate neutrality in the hospitality industry – as a food wholesaler, METRO sets an example to others and sets itself new climate targets.