Demand For Fresh Ingredients Driving Growth

The restaurant trend to advertise locally sourced ingredients on the menu has now caused consumers to expect it. This demand is now beginning to be met in less expensive fast-casual restaurant chains. Guests are willing to pay extra for locally sourced fresh ingredients as is the case at Sweetgreen, Tortas Fronteras by Rick Bayless, Salata and Mad Greens. Marley Hodgson, cofounder of Colorado-based Mad Greens has states that, ” the plan is to have a dedicated portion of the menu that’s local specific.” As the chain begins to expand outside of Colorado, the availability of local produce and other ingredients will be an important determining factor for whether or not to install a new unit. For locations in markets that do not have long growing seasons the emphasis will be shifted to other ingredients that are produced in all seasons such as dairy.

Pricing structures in a fast casual business are not straightforward and the business models do not allow for much wiggle room, however, certain chains are coming up with ways around the structures in order to incorporate more locally sourced ingredients into the menu. Hodgson stresses that guests are willing to pay extra for local foods and believes that, “it’s a much more important trend than organic, but there’s a bifurcated customer base and you have to give them a choice. If you force them all to pay a higher price for local, that’s problematic, because there’s a portion that won’t pay. But there’s a large segment saying ‘yeah, I’m totally willing to pay more.’”

Salata, a franchise company operating in Texas, California and Chicago also sources local products and ingredients. Both Salata and Mad Greens are very transparent with their guests about where their food is coming from, which has proven to be much appreciated.

To read more about adding more locally produced foods to restaurant and fast casual chains’ menus and how it is helping to drive business growth, click here


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