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Who are the most environmentally friendly restaurants?

Rosie Edwards Senior Executive 10/05/2022

Many businesses are stepping up their sustainability efforts and this is also true of restaurants. But who’s performing best?

BrandVue Eating Out – Savanta’s syndicated brand tracking & market intelligence platform for the casual dining sector – asks consumers which brands they think are 'environmentally friendly’, and we’ve ranked the results.

Vegetarian and vegan options help, but so does a focus on provenance and sustainability, especially around packaging.

The first-place branded chain is, no surprise, a vegetarian-only brand: Veggie Pret. 34% of consumers rated Veggie Pret as environmentally friendly, a considerable 17% ahead of competition. But what if we look past this meat-free leader?

Mexican burrito chain Chilango, is rated the second most environmentally friendly brand by 16% of consumers overall and within the Mexican sector in 2021. Chilango, like many major eating out brands, is catering more to the rising demand for vegan food and the huge focus on healthier eating by offering a plant-based menu. But this is not the only factor behind its success. In 2018, Chilango was one of the first grab’n’go chains to adopt new technology to make its packaging 100% biodegradable and compostable.

Reusable packaging is a theme among the brands perceived to be the most environmentally friendly. Marugame Udon, rated the most environmentally friendly Asian brand within the sector by 13% of consumers, has also taken steps to reduce paper and plastic in an effort to help care for our oceans. The Japanese noodle chain has incorporated reusable bowls in its restaurants and uses paper only packaging for takeaway orders.

If reusable packaging is not part of your offering, focusing on provenance is another option. There is one clear winner in the branded burger sector: Honest Burgers. The brand’s use of locally sourced ingredients makes it stand out from the crowd with 12% agreeing that Honest Burgers is environmentally friendly, 6% ahead Shake Shack, the brand taking second place in the burger sector. Honest Burgers menu offering is minimal, with only a handful of vegan and vegetarian options, so instead of increasing its offering, the brand has worked to ensure it’s only offering the best ingredients.

The Stable is the pizzeria restaurant chain that tops the list of most environmentally friendly Italian brands scoring 14%. The Stable has adopted a similar approach, looking to support local farms and jobs and buying the freshest ingredients from trusted suppliers. Reducing food miles and supporting local businesses to get the freshest ingredients goes a long way to emphasise sustainability efforts with consumers.

So, what is the recipe for success? Well, there are a few themes: vegetarian and vegan options help, but so does a focus on provenance and sustainability, especially around packaging. Brands should clearly communicate these themes to help set them apart from the crowd.

BrandVue Eating Out covers 160+ brands across the drinks category and captures and analyses the views and trends of 100,000 UK diners each year.

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