Sustainability is increasingly becoming a leading business model. It’s very interesting to point out how the model is changing. In the past, companies used to focus on reputation when introducing sustainable measures. Today, reputation is still important (32 percent of companies) cite it as a top concern but it’s surpassed by the cost reduction aspect of sustainability (33 percent of businesses consider this a top reason for the introduction of sustainable practices).
The farm-to-table movement is yet another innovative approach that focuses on sustainable development and helps local businesses find their niche. In essence, this is a social movement that promotes serving foods made from local ingredients in restaurants, cafeterias and fast food places. Restauranteurs will either work with local farmers or they’ll begin growing produce on their own.
The farm-to-table movement is revolutionizing the restaurant business. With a consumer becoming increasingly focused on health and locally-grown ingredients, it opens up a completely new niche. While farm-to-table isn’t a new concept, it does result in an innovative form of economic development.
Farm-to-table has gone throughout India. Take Delhi as an example. The city has many businesses that practice farm-to-table food preparation. Caara Café is just one example and its creators believe that food should be “brought back to its origins.” The café is interested in making fast food healthy, giving Indians an opportunity to grab a quick bite and still enjoy delicious, locally-grown fruits and veggies.
The farm-to-table movement is addressing a problem that many restauranteurs and members of the food industry are faced with.
It’s interesting to point out that ever since the Great Recession, many types of spending have been curbed. This isn’t the case in terms of dining out and visiting restaurants. It’s also interesting to point out that consumers are making a shift towards healthier, more sustainable restaurant concepts. This change in the attitude of buyers is making it difficult for some established restaurants and food chains to survive.
In the past, big chains were successful because they were capable of delivering a satisfactory, hearty product at a lower price. Today, things are looking very different, partially because of the food-to-table movement.
How Farm-to-Table is Offering a Solution
The farm-to-table movement focuses on two very important factors that the big chains have been neglecting: sustainability and food quality. Very often, the quality and the freshness of ingredients in some of the biggest US chains is sacrificed for the purpose of keeping the price low.
A shift in consumer mindset, however, has opened some room for new market players. While a portion of the population is predominantly focused on affordability, more and more people are starting to pay attention to the quality of food that they consume. More and more people are interested in obtaining fresh ingredients that are grown locally.
Because of this shift, restaurants that offer their clients fresh options made from local products have thrived. On the other hand, chains that put emphasis on price and volume have seen a downward trend in terms of popularity.
What Makes Farm-to-Table Unique?
The farm-to-table movement has contributed to the economic development of local communities in a number of major ways.
The environmental sustainability of the approach is obviously the biggest benefit, the one characteristic that sets it apart from other restaurant business models. The local sourcing of foods or having a restaurant with its own garden reduces the environmental impact of food production significantly. Needless to say, it creates a closed cycle that gives restaurants full control over the sourcing of ingredients and their quality. The positive impact on local farmers and small business is massive.
Competing with the food production industry is very often an impossible task for small, local farms. The reason is simple – the cost of production in large farms is much smaller. They can push out inexpensive produce that smaller and sustainable farms cannot compete with.
When restaurants create demand for locally produced and sustainable ingredients, they’re helping smaller producers thrive. They’re also putting emphasis on ethical practices – something that is largely missing in big, corporate food production facilities.
Finally, the farm-to-table movement creates better business for the restaurants themselves. Clients are changing their demands. The sourcing of local, fresh and seasonal ingredients is one of these new demands. When a restaurant makes it a priority to work with the best, environmentally-friendly and locally grown ingredients, it’s setting up the right reputation for long-term growth.
Limitations and Potential Disadvantages
As great as it may seem for the development of local communities, farm-to-table doesn’t come without its limitations.
Food production is still being guided by the basic economic principles of supply and demand. So far, farm-to-table has failed in terms of widespread implementation or intrinsically changing the way in which products are grown. Big farms are still growing bigger because they can offer affordable prices and a fast turnaround.
Scholars also believe that the local sourcing of ingredients is a fad at best and it is dangerous at worst. The local food movement could potentially lead to environmental damage. Efficient modern farming could address many of the challenges that we’re facing today. The less efficient local production in smaller farms doesn’t come with the same capacity.
Finally, there have already been cases of restaurants that claim they source locally and obtain their ingredients from sustainable farms but have been proven to mislead their clients. While genuine farm-to-table has its place, especially when it comes to the growth of small local businesses, there’s still room for manipulation and inefficacy. This is particularly true when speaking of large-scale adoption.