Why Restaurants Should Care About Seafood Sustainability

Seafood

Sustainability is a growing conversation in the restaurant industry. What started as a buzzword has grown into an industry of its own, with the Michelin guide introducing green stars as a sustainability award.

But why should restaurants adopt a sustainable approach? Sustainable strategies often get pushed to the bottom of the long list of things business owners need to do. But here are a few reasons why restaurants should start prioritising sustainability, especially when it comes to seafood. 

Our Resources Are Limited

The first reason is pretty straightforward; unless we fish responsibly, there’ll be no fish left for us to serve in restaurants. This may seem pretty extreme, but it’s a reality we’ve already seen with some species. 

As restaurant owners or managers, there are many factors to consider when you partner with a supplier. You may serve only locally grown produce; perhaps you source food from suppliers with similar values, possibly only from other independent businesses. Costs, turnaround times and many other variables will also influence your decision. It can be tempting to leave sustainability up to the suppliers, who are more directly involved with sourcing produce. But taking personal accountability for your business helps to increase the impact. 

By partnering with suppliers that hold sustainable seafood certifications, you can positively impact the environment and the restaurant industry. For example, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certify that wild-caught and farmed seafood come from well-managed fisheries and farms using sustainable methods of catching or harvesting seafood. In addition, responsible seafood suppliers like PanaPesca will have a transparent sustainability policy published on their websites. 

Positively Impacting Your Community

What could be considered an obstacle for restaurants could become a major opportunity when it comes to food waste. The restaurant industry spends an estimated $162 billion every year in costs related to wasted food. More than 90% of food scraps in the United States end up going into landfill and the rotting food emits methane gases that negatively impact the environment

The first thing restaurants should do to avoid food waste is proper inventory, stock rotation and forward planning. However, there are times when food waste is unavoidable, and this is where the opportunity to positively impact your community presents itself. Restaurant waste management can donate the food to shelters and hunger relief services, reducing food waste and helping worthwhile causes in the process. Seek out partnerships in your local community that you can support in this way. 

Marketing Benefits Associated with Sustainability

While there are more authentic reasons for restaurants to care about sustainability, ultimately, there are benefits for you as a business. Marketing yourselves as a restaurant serving sustainable seafood can positively impact your business. 

As consumers become more aware of the need for sustainable initiatives, this influences consumer habits. Many potential customers are already prioritising businesses that commit to responsibly sourcing produce. Offering sustainable seafood as part of your sustainability efforts will ensure that eco-conscious customers are happy to patronise your business. Research has shown that approximately 68% of customers are willing to pay more for sustainable practices. This number only grows as more people realise the need for sustainable business practices. 

These efforts can significantly boost a company’s reputation, so you should shout about your efforts in all your marketing materials. Share details of your sustainability commitments on your website, and use this as an opportunity to develop new content for your social media channels too. 

Driving Change within the Industry

While your efforts behind the scenes can positively impact the environment, letting people know about your sustainability initiatives can also help to encourage other businesses to improve their efforts. Seeing other small and/or independent businesses embrace sustainability can have a ripple effect in any sector. 

Some companies will make the same commitment so as not to get left behind, some out of a genuine concern for the environment, but either way, you can be a change-maker in the hospitality industry. On a local level, you can increase the impact of your sustainable efforts by connecting with peers and encouraging them to reconsider their own practices. 

Essentially, we can help to create a better industry by embracing sustainable practices even when they aren’t mandated by law.  By making positive changes in the interest of serving great, responsibly sourced produce and protecting the environment, the benefits to restaurants can be huge. 

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