The survey also found more than half of diners would pay a premium for their meal if they knew the restaurant was investing in reducing its environmental impact and taking its social responsibility seriously.
The results are published in the SRA’s report, The Discerning Diner: How consumers’ attitudes to eating out have become more sophisticated. Unilever also supported the research.
The survey of 1,000 people across the UK, carried out by Populus, shows a significant shift in diners’ priorities compared to four years ago, the SRA says. Food waste (53 percent), health and nutrition (53 percent), and locally sourced produce (46 percent) are the three top issues on which diners want restaurants to focus (see chart). When the SRA asked consumers the same question in 2009, they ranked local sourcing (67 percent), organic (45 percent) and employee treatment (36 percent) and as their highest priorities.
Only 5 percent of those asked this time ranked organic as one of their main concerns, compared with 45 percent when the survey was first conducted in 2009.
Diners don’t think restaurants give them enough information, the 2013 survey found. Eighty-five percent say they know little or nothing about the social and environmental standards of the restaurants in which they eat. Almost the same number (84 percent) want restaurants to tell them more about their sustainability efforts.
Virgin Atlantic partnered with the SRA earlier this year to serve sustainable food on in-flight meals. By the end of 2013, all of Virgin Atlantic’s caterers worldwide will be rated by the SRA, according to the association, which says this program is the first of its kind in the airline industry.