Should You Be Serving Organic Foods in Your Restaurant?

Here’s the thing about fruits and vegetables: Everyone knows they’re healthy, and we all know we should be eating more of them. But more and more, it’s not just whether we’re consuming enough produce, but whether we’re eating the right kind of produce. In a word, organic. And it’s not just fruits and vegetables — people are searching for all organic food: meat, poultry, and milk as well.

As a result, sales of organic food in Australia totalled $2.6 billion in 2019, according to Australian Organic Limited, and demand for organic produce is increasing in Australia at about 20 percent per annum. For the first time, organic food could reach more than five percent of market sales in Australia.

While people want organic food more and more, there are still some issues that keep organic from going totally mainstream — like cost.
A study by the study by the Australian Organic Food Directory found, on average, organic foods are at least 20 percent more expensive than their conventional counterparts. And some organic items were significantly more expensive, up to 70 percent more.

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Are organic foods right for your business?

So where does this leave you? If you recently opened a restaurant, perhaps you’re not sure if your customers are even interested in organic foods. Or maybe you want to offer organic restaurant options, but the cost seems exorbitant and significantly impacts your restaurant costs.

The first place to start is by identifying whether your customers have an appetite (quite literally) for organic foods. You might try to ask your customers while they’re in your store. Or you could email your most loyal customers and ask them to take a survey about their preferences.

If a sample of your customers says that they would like more organic food options — and you believe that offering these options will help attract and retain customers — the next thing to do is look at your budget and operating costs for organic food restaurants.

Analyse how a switch to organic food ingredients would affect your bottom line. Whether you are a restaurant or a market, this might mean researching new vendors to find the best prices. If costs for organic ingredients are that much higher, you might look at adjusting prices or changing up your offerings. And check your local organic food laws and organic food regulations, if there are any.

Better yet, why not start small and do some pilot testing? Offer a sample of new organic products in your market or a new all-organic dish on your organic restaurant menu. Then see how well the new offering sells and how your customers react to it before you expand.

How to market your organic food offerings

Regardless of how you decide to approach organic food offerings, once you’ve implemented them, the most important thing to do is promote them with organic food marketing.

If you own a market, prominently mark and display produce, and create a designated section for all your packaged foods to make it as easy as possible for your customers to go organic.

If you own an organic food restaurant, highlight organic ingredients on your menu. Diners are sophisticated enough to understand that organic ingredients are typically more expensive, which will help explain any price changes. (Depending on your location and clientele, they might ask whether dishes contain organic food anyway, so this makes it easier on your servers.)

Outside of your store or restaurant, use your marketing channels — like email, social media, and your website — to talk about your new offering of organic foods online. Any marketing you do will remind regular customers to come in and try your new fare. And it may tempt new customers (who search for organic food offerings) to come in and find out what they’ve been missing.