Half of millennials (18 – 34 year olds) are more likely to eat out in venues where they are told about where the food on their plate comes from, according to survey results published today.

The survey, carried out by Populus on behalf of WWF-UK, also finds that 53% of millennials are more likely to eat at a restaurant, café or canteen if meat has been reared to high animal welfare standards.  One in five would like to see restaurants offer an entirely meat free day.

The findings accompany the release of a new report Catering for Sustainability from WWF-UK, Sodexo UK & Ireland and the Food Ethics Council.  The report sets out a clear business case for sustainable meals – and shows that adopting sustainable menus can improve business revenues and profits, and mitigate supply chain risks.

The report recommends that foodservice companies pilot sustainable menus,  remove ingredients that are unsustainably sourced and share examples of best practice across the industry.

Nick Hughes, Food Sustainability Advisor at WWF UK said:

“There’s a clear trend towards sustainable consumption in the UK – and this is great news for our health and the environment. Smart businesses will be taking steps to capitalise on the demand for ethical sustainable sourcing, meat-free options and more information about health and nutrition.

“WWF’s Livewell principles can be easily integrated into meals and recipes offered by the food service sector.  Our partner Sodexo is leading the way, and offers a template for others to follow.”

19% of millennials say they intend to eat less meat over the coming year, representing a significant opportunity for foodservice companies to make vegetables a central part of their menu.  Of those planning to cut down on meat, 66% reported that they wanted to be able to choose plant-based options from the menu. 

Dan Crossley, executive director of the Food Ethics Council said: 

“Most people in the UK eat out at work canteens, fast food outlets or high-end restaurants. The choices offered there have huge impacts not just on our own health, but on the health of the planet. Our research shows that foodservice companies stepping up to the plate and offering ‘better’ sets of choices to customers are likely to be more profitable in the long run”                   

Edwina Hughes, corporate responsibility manager for Sodexo UK and Ireland commented;

“Working with WWF we recently piloted a set of ‘Green & Lean’ sustainable meals in our independent schools business, taking popular recipes such as chicken pie and beef lasagne and making small changes to make these meals more sustainable and nutritious. We were pleased with the feedback from students and the wider schools communities, who were happy with the recipes, but also keen to engage with the issue of sustainable eating.” 

“Clearly there is growing interest from consumers in understanding the provenance of their food and the impact of their food choices. It is important that industry and stakeholders work together to help share best practice and innovation in terms of more sustainable food offers and to look at how we can inform consumer choices in this area.” 

The survey revealed strong demand for more sustainable menus across all age groups and social classes, challenging assumptions that it’s only those with bigger budgets that care about where their food comes from. 

Catering for Sustainability – making the case for sustainable diets in foodservice is available:
Executive summary and full report


Notes to Editors

  1. Populus interviewed a sample of 2,000 adults representative of the UK population.
  2. Find out more about WWF’s work on sustainable diets and the Livewell principles at wwf.org.uk
  3. The Food Ethics Council is an independent charity that works to create fair food systems with food businesses, NGOs and governments. Our 18 Council members are all experts in their fields, and include ethicists, food policy experts, organic farmers and senior food business executives.
  4. The full dataset for the Populus poll can be found here.