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National Restaurant Association - Eco-friendly menus tops with consumers

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Eco-friendly menus tops with consumers

Consumer demand for environmentally-friendly menu items continues to grow, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast.

The data, part of the association's annual Restaurant Trends Survey, found the trend for sustainable foods increased among consumers in all segments, and most particularly at higher end establishments. In fact, 55 percent of adults said they were more likely to visit a restaurant that offered food grown or raised locally, organically or in environmentally friendly ways.

"The fact is diners of all ages are much more sophisticated and knowledgeable about food, nutrition and sustainable practices," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA's Research & Knowledge Group. "Not only do they want to be able to make more informed dining choices, they also want to help protect the environment when and where they can."

Further, a majority of restaurant operators said their customers were more interested in purchasing environmentally friendly menu items. Among restaurateurs polled, 58 percent of fast-casual operators said their customers increasingly ordered environmentally-friendly menu items. And in the quick-service and family-dining segments, approximately 50 percent of operators said their customers sought out eco-friendly foods.

"People are inclined to want to connect with their local communities, and this is a way to accomplish that," Riehle said. "Consumers look at local businesses and trust them to solve the economic challenges the country faces. When they buy menu items produced with locally grown foods, they feel like they are supporting the economies of their own neighborhoods."

For more information on or to order the complete 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast, go to www.restaurant.org/forecast.

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