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40% of event attendees will have ‘dietary requirements’ by 2030 as industry moves towards ‘Green Eating’

Event organisers believe that the number of dietary requirements amongst delegations will grow from 20% in 2020, to 40% by 2030, according to research by Lime Venue Portfolio.

The growth in vegan and plant-based diets will continue to supplement more traditional requirements (gluten free and other allergen related) as more and more delegates take a sustainable stance when eating at events.

The survey is behind the launch of Lime Venue Portfolio’s Meetings for Change package, which now offers organisers access to credible and sustainable menu options. The report also underlined the growing importance of food at events, with 45% of all event feedback based on food and beverage, and with the majority (56%) of organisers spending between 30%-40% of their event budget on food.

“We need to change some of the language now around ‘dietary requirements’,” commented Jo Austin, Sales Director, Lime Venue Portfolio. “The world has changed and by 2030 we believe that the majority of people at an event will want a different menu. They are no longer the outliers; they are the main make-up of the delegation and need to be treated as such.”

“It’s our belief that many delegates who ask for vegan, vegetarian, plant-based or plant-first menus are doing so from a purely sustainable stance. We should see these as a new wave of ‘green eaters’ who are going to change the way we create menus at events,” added Jo. “It’s a big part of why we’ve developed Meetings for Change, this is about peace of mind for the organiser; knowing that they are reacting to the changing needs of delegations by making credible and informed decisions around menu choice.”

The survey was conducted amongst event organisers, including in-house, third-party agencies and freelancers, with the intention of looking at Future Food, the fifth and final chapter in Lime Venue Portfolio’s Beyond Food Report. The report, which has already provided chapters on #FORO (fear of running out), The Blue Planet Effect, Food & Mental Health and Food in a Covid area, is now available for free download here.

The survey also identified a number of sustainability-led trends amongst delegations, including the growth in ‘green eating’. The research uncovered the key motivators of event organisers when choosing menus for their events. And while ‘Taste’ and ‘Price’ remain top, a new agenda emerged with ‘Healthiness’, ‘Environmental Sustainability’ and ‘Ethical Sourcing’ all closely behind. In terms of understanding where these trends will lead to in the future, both ‘Healthier Food’ and ‘Enhanced Dietary Requirements’ made the top two on the list.

‘The Food Chain’ was next, adding further credibility to Lime Venue Portfolio’s belief that the ethical sourcing and sustainability of food will continue to rise up the agenda for event planners as they continue to take responsibility for the environmental impacts of events; and more specifically event food.

Most reassuring however was the finding that there is financial conviction towards sustainable menus; the survey showed that 72% of respondents would be willing to pay more for a demonstrably more sustainable menu. Of these, 48% suggested they would be willing to pay up to 10% extra, with 19% extending to 20%.

“We’ve talked for a long time about making events more sustainable, and one of the biggest hurdles has been cost,” concluded Austin. “This is especially true at times of crisis, so the fact that event organisers are already willing to invest in sustainable menus, if they have to, is an amazing turn around. It shows the amount of corporate will there is out there and we, as an industry, need to react to it.”