What Do You Know About the Organic Movement?
Like a snowball rolling down hill, the “Organic Movement” has been growing since the 1940s. It has slowly turned into what can now only be described as an avalanche. This movement has changed the way consumers shop, where they spend their money, and how they eat. A societal shift of this magnitude has made a heavy impact on food producers and restaurants. They have had to conform to suit the needs and concerns of their customers.
The Organic Movement
Today the food service industry competes less on price and more on quality. Consumers choose to give their business to local food sources and buy organic options. This is good news for the small restaurant as it gives them new opportunities to capitalize on an ever-growing trend. It also means disruptions for the already established food industry giants. Fast food restaurants who capitalize on providing cheap food to the indiscriminate public have lost part of their advantage as consumers become more discerning.
Realizing that consumers are willing to pay more for higher quality food, restaurants have made the move towards organic. We see it on a large scale at chains like Chipotle; whose mission statement “food with integrity” remains a hallmark of the restaurant long after their sourcing methods have changed. We also see the emergence of restaurants like Sweetgreen who have built their mission statements and their subsequent empires off consumers’ interest in locally sourced foods.
The organic movement has changed not only how and where customers buy their food, but how restaurants describe themselves. A real effort on the part of restaurants to raise awareness of their endorsement of the organic movement has resulted in the advertisement of mission statements, and relationships with local purveyors. Menus have become yet another opportunity to show the customer that restaurants are thoughtfully sourcing ingredients, giving them a chance to name local farms, organic ingredients, and seasonal menu items. All of these methods allow restaurants to demonstrate value to the customer and none of these opportunities should be missed.
The Struggle Is Real
“Farm-to-table”, an offshoot of the organic movement, has become a common phrase thanks to famous chefs like Dan Barber and Peter Hoffman. They brought socially and environmentally thoughtful cooking to the forefront of the public’s consciousness. With any major change, new struggles for the restaurateur present themselves. One of the hallmarks of a restaurant is to be able to produce delicious tasting food consistently. Consistency and comfort seem to go hand-in-hand for consumers. The ability to order the same dish they had last time is often important. Nature, however, is oftentimes inconsistent.
As restaurants get closer to the food they serve, the struggle to acquire the same quality products can be difficult. As demand rises small local farms cannot keep up. Many restaurants are forced to change farms regularly sometimes as often as every season. This is a huge financial drain on restaurants as finding and establishing relationships with local farms is a time-consuming process.
Price is another hurdle that restaurants must overcome. On average organic food is 47 percent more expensive than conventional foods. Balancing prices can be a struggle for restaurants, as many consumers want the fresh organic tag, but not the hefty bill attached to it.
Here to Stay
As the fastest-growing segment of the food industry at large, food producers of all sizes from the local restaurant to the large-scale chain cannot afford to disregard the demand for organic. And if the right strategy can be applied to introduce or amplify the organic, local elements of a business, one may easily capitalize on a trend that at least for the foreseeable future isn’t going anywhere.
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