Sustainability on the Table – Modern Restaurant Management

July 10, 2024
3 Min Read By MRM Staff
To address growing consumer demand for sustainably focused products, in November 2023, Sysco launched One Planet. One Table. an assortment of more than 3,500 items backed by leading sustainability certifications or standards. So, whether our customers are looking for grass-fed beef or eco-friendly disposables, they can easily find and purchase sustainably-focused products that align with the values important to them and consumer demands. 
"We have a growing market of customers looking for more sustainable products. Whether it is to meet their own sustainability commitments or consumer demand, they are interested in where their food came from and how it was produced,” said Neil Russell, Sysco’s SVP and Chief Administrative Officer. 
To get an update on the progress of One Planet. One Table and all things sustainability in the restaurant industry, Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine reached out to Russell.
Sustainability is important to our customers and the restaurant industry at-large for many reasons – ranging from needing to meet new state regulations to diners’ continuing to grow interested in where their food comes from and how it’s produced. Focusing on sustainability topics can help restaurants capture new diners and bring credibility to menus.
Before we launched One Planet. One Table., we surveyed over 1,000 of our independent restaurant customers, and over 85 percent of them stated that sustainability is important to them. But, we know that everyone views sustainability differently. And, that’s okay. Some are interested in higher animal welfare standards, while others are interested in items that are more environmentally friendly. To help them find items that align with their sustainability interests, we added One Planet. One Table. landing pages and filtering capabilities in Sysco Shop. 
We also know that many of our larger chain customers have their own sustainability commitments. They are looking to Sysco for products that are responsibly sourced and minimize their impact on the environment.  For that reason, we have capabilities that make it easier for our customers to see which products they are sourcing today that are not part of our One Planet. One Table. assortment so they can make the conversion to a more sustainable option and meet their commitments. 
Our sales and culinary teams offer consultations to our customers to help keep their menus on-trend and profitable. For example, our chefs are experts at helping customers update their menus with sustainability-focused products or sharing ideas to maximize inventory and reduce waste.
Absolutely. One key shift that restaurants can make is moving from single-serve to refillable or reusable packaging solutions for products such as condiments to help reduce waste. For instance, when offering food to-go, leveraging eco-friendly disposables such as Sysco’s Earth Plus line is a way that restaurants can reduce plastics and their environmental impact. Sysco’s Earth Plus Agave Straw – for example – provides a durable plastic alternative that is biodegradable, compostable, and cost-competitive. 
Our culinary experts can also help operators who want to: 
Responsible sourcing and food safety go hand-in-hand. Working closely with supplier partners to monitor processes is key to ensuring rigorous food safety standards are met. 
Sysco’s Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA) team designs, implements and measures compliance with our food safety and quality management system. They also administer many of the responsible sourcing programs that are foundational to our Sysco Brand promise, such as our animal welfare, sustainable seafood and produce, integrated pest management and social audit programs just to name a few.
We see continued interest in the category. That said, consumers appear to increasingly opt for simpler ingredients and less processed plant-based foods. They are looking for more plant-forward dishes such as using mushrooms, grains and legumes that are naturally protein-rich foods. Mushrooms, in particular, continue to be a significant trend. They have long been a favored ingredient amongst consumers, chefs, and restaurants for their ability to closely mirror the hearty texture and umami flavor of meat. 
As part of our One Planet. One Table. assortment, we are also seeing growth and consumer demand in our Sysco SIMPLY Plant Based barista blend milks such as oat, almond and coconut. 

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