Sustainability is a trend that’s here to stay, expert tells Restaurant Association Show

23 05 2023

Alex Nicolaou, the Coca-Cola Co.’s senior manager for sustainability customer strategy. Photo: Ron Ruggless

Alex Nicolaou of Coca-Cola offers ideas for tapping into the growing consumer demand for restaurant commitments. By Ron Ruggless from Nation’s Restaurant News * Reposted: May 23, 2023

Sustainability is a restaurant trend that restaurant operators can capitalize on, an expert told a packed crowd at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago on Saturday.

“It’s a trend that’s here to stay,” said Alex Nicolaou, the Coca-Cola Co.’s senior manager for sustainability customer strategy, on Saturday at an educational session entitled “Driving Growth with Sustainability.”

About 62% of U.S. consumers surveyed in 2022 said they would reward restaurants that showed a sustainability commitment, Nicolaou said.

In addition, the restaurant operator commitment has grown, he said. In 2019, for example, 58% of operators said sustainability activities were necessary to remain competitive in foodservice. In 2022, that number had grown to 65%, Nicolaou said.

However, he added, “Sustainability can’t be just a marketing slogan. It has to be lived.”

Nicolaou suggested restaurant operators partner with trusted organizations such as the Clean Conservency, the National Park Service or Shoreline Cleanup to give their sustainability programs legitimacy.

“Customers are looking for optimism,” he said. “There is so much lack of trust in this space.”

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