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Sustainability marketing: What’s the benefit for food and hospitality businesses?

A new generation of climate-conscious diners has emerged. More than ever, these consumers seek brands that share their values and eschew those that don’t.

In this landscape, prioritising sustainability isn’t just the right thing for food and hospitality businesses to do, it’s a key differentiator. Embracing sustainable practices like carbon labelling can help build brand value and increase revenue. 

But where’s the evidence for all this? And where should you start if you want to embrace sustainability marketing? We’ve got you. Read on to find out. 

What on earth is sustainability marketing?

Sustainability marketing is a strategic approach that promotes the environmental and social benefits of products and operations. It goes beyond traditional marketing by highlighting practices that minimise environmental impact, conserve resources, and support ethical sourcing.

Every food business is unique, and your sustainability marketing strategy should be tailored accordingly. Simply copying another business’s approach isn’t likely to go down well with diners. That’s because authenticity is critical. To avoid claims of greenwashing – which can cause your sustainable marketing strategies to backfire – you need to be ready to back up your claims with data. 

When forming your sustainability marketing strategy, start by asking this question – how is my business committed to the environment? The answer or answers will likely form the basis of your approach. And if you can’t or don’t know how to answer? Well, it’s time to take a broader look at your sustainability credentials. 

Show me the receipts: How can sustainability marketing benefit your business?

Becoming more sustainable isn’t just good for the planet – it can also benefit your bottom line! Here are just a few reasons why:

It delivers a branding boost

When done right, sustainability marketing elevates food businesses’ branding by attracting consumers who value ethical and environmentally responsible practices. In addition to getting these consumers through the door, it can also help build long-term loyalty by educating and inspiring diners to keep them coming back. 

We’re already seeing many brands embracing sustainability marketing. But those moving quickly to prioritise this are seeing the most significant benefits, setting themselves apart from the competition in today’s ruthlessly competitive food and hospitality market. 

Need more evidence? Check out this Capgemini study, which found that among consumers:

79% are changing purchase and brand preferences based on impact 79%
64% say shopping from sustainable brands makes them feel happier 64%
53% choose lesser-known brands over household names for sustainability 53%

Businesses are seeing similar benefits. The same study found that 77% say sustainability marketing has improved their relationship with customers, and 63% say it has also increased revenues.

It can help food and hospitality businesses optimise their margins

According to GFI Europe, the market for plant-based products and meals is skyrocketing. Sales of plant-based foods grew by 21% between 2020 and 2022, reaching a record of €5.8 billion in market value. Meanwhile, conventional wisdom in the hospitality industry dictates that plant-based meals typically have the largest profit margins. By implementing a carbon labelling tool as part of a broader sustainability marketing strategy, businesses can drive consumers towards revenue-optimised, plant-based dishes. 

Does it work? Yes – according to our research. Working with Accor, Klimato surveyed 1000 diners, and 43% agreed that carbon labelling drove them to choose a less carbon-intensive meal. We conducted a similar study for the electric ferry operator ForSea by partnering with Brandenburg University. This experiment tested food sales for one week without carbon labels versus one week with the labels. The results were clear. Customers responded positively to carbon labels, which led to an increase in total sales, particularly those of low-impact meals.

Cost savings, revenue growth – it’s a win-win!

It attracts a more committed workforce 

Today’s workforce, particularly younger generations, is increasingly driven by purpose and impact. By showcasing their commitment to sustainability, food businesses can attract employees who are passionate about working for companies that align with their values and contribute to a better future.

Moreover, staff retention continues to be a struggle for food and hospitality businesses. Sustainability initiatives provide a common purpose that unites employees and fosters a sense of pride in their work. Since these employees feel connected to their company's mission and values, they’re more likely to be engaged and stay longer. 

Sustainable marketing strategies: How can I get started?

We’ve covered how to attract climate-conscious diners and boost your bottom line through sustainability marketing. But how should food and hospitality businesses put this into practice? 

Here are a few sustainable marketing strategies you might want to consider:

  • Promoting ethical sourcing: Highlighting fair trade practices, support for local farmers, and responsible animal welfare standards resonates with consumers who value social responsibility.
  • Showcasing eco-friendly packaging: Using recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging materials demonstrates a commitment to reducing waste and promoting circularity.
  • Supporting community initiatives: Engaging in local food security, education or conservation projects can strengthen brand reputation and foster positive community relationships.
  • Carbon labelling: Unlike other popular sustainability initiatives around waste management or energy, carbon labelling – the practice of clearly displaying the carbon emissions of each dish – is directly customer-facing. It’s the easiest way to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability, attract climate-conscious diners and educate consumers about sustainable food choices.

How Klimato helps clients implement sustainable marketing strategies

Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part. This is where Klimato comes in. 

Our powerful food sustainability solution helps food and hospitality businesses demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. Through our cutting-edge, science-backed solution, you can easily measure, track, and reduce your environmental footprint. And our public-facing carbon labelling feature is the perfect way to kickstart your sustainability marketing journey.  

From onboarding to day-to-day use, we’ve removed complexity without sacrificing precision, keeping things simple and effective for your team. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what some of our customers are saying:

  • Courtyard by Marriott: "We are now considered a preferred choice by our business customers since sustainability is becoming a priority for them." – Petra Rörfors, Director of Sales and Sustainability.
  • Wahaca: “We have found that carbon labels are a great way to engage with our customers about making more sustainable choices when eating out.” – Carolyn Lum, Sustainability Manager. 
  • ForSea: “We’re at the forefront of everything to do with sustainability. This is driven from within our company, but there’s also pressure from outside stakeholders that’s driving us to do more. Our customers could easily buy food from shops before boarding our ferries, so we (and our food) have to stand out.” – Alexander Gerencser, Head of Food & Beverage.




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Kickstart your sustainability marketing journey and make informed decisions that benefit your customers, your bottom line and the planet.