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The Impact of Organic Food and Beverage on UK Hospitality Industry Restaurants and Bars


Subject Business Pages 13 Style APA



The UK hospitality sector is ranked as an important part of the tourism industry. It is composed of restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, self-catering operations, guesthouses, and hotels. Specific to the UK, the largest component of the hospitality industry is the restaurants and hotels (Melia, 405). In addition, beverage and foods operations represent significant activities in this industry. Over the past decade, there has been a renewed interest in matters health. Bucher et al. report that because of the increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases, more consumers are changing their consumer behaviour in favour of healthy lifestyles (2255). This includes favouring organic foods and beverages over junk. These sentiments are seconded by Ledsom who writes that UK consumers have switched their food and beverage preferences from genetically modified foods to organic. The author explains that statistics by the Soil Association showed that consumer trends are being driven by awareness not only on health but also environmental sustainability. As a result, customers spend more than £45 million on organic products.

A 2019 report by the Organic Market reiterates these sentiments as it demonstrates that organic beverages and foods have quickly become the go-to products for consumers who are conscious on their health, the environment, and social outcomes (Mie, 111). Ho explains that this trend has forced the hospitality industry especially the restaurants to begin sourcing and selling environmentally friendly and ethically sourced food options namely free range eggs and chicken (8). The industry is forced to react to customer concerns over issues such as artificial additives, excessive use of pesticides, and chemicals (Allcott, Benjamin & Dmitry, 223). Guided by this backdrop, this dissertation conducts an investigation to establish the impact of organic food and beverage on the hospitality industry (restaurants and bars) in the UK.

Theoretical Background and Research Focus

Theories Explaining Impact of Organic Food on Consumers and Reaction from Hospitality Industry

The main theories that predict why the UK hospitality industry has to respond to the change in consumer preferences include the rational choice theory, theory of planned behaviour, social identity theory, and conspiracy theory.

Theory of Planned Behavior

This theory is considered to be a significant part of the theory of reasoned action (TRA). Both theories assume that individuals make reasoned and logical decisions to engage in particular behaviours. These decisions are taken after evaluating available information with the intention of making the best and most rational choice among available alternatives. The decision to embrace new behaviour is determined by factors such as individual values, the ease of embracing the change, and the way others view the behaviour. These determinants of planned behaviour are summarized by Johe and Navjot as self-efficacy, social support, intention, and attitude (100) (Capitello, Claudia and Diego, 3). Paul, Ashwin and Jayesh add that these factors predict and explain why people are more likely to pay more for organic foods and beverages in restaurants and bars (124). Besides, Maniatis notes that numerous studies have shown that consumers mostly decide to go organic because of health-related reasons (221). Similarly, business law treats firms as individuals with rights to choice. It is possible that the organic foods craze could motivate firms in the UK hospitality industry to engage in planned behaviour of providing exclusively organic foods with the intend of appealing to the organic consumer segments. Goldsmith backs up these claims noting that this market segment is widely untapped because it requires intensive capital investment to manage the organic supply chain (7).

Theory of Conspiracy

There have been widespread machinations on the effects of genetically modified foods (GM) and beverages. Reports by health experts have consistently criticized non-organic foods citing them as a health hazard and unsafe for human consumption (Wilson et al. 51). Some of the reasons have revolved around the synthetic inputs created in labs that have the potential of harming the human body and the environment. Surprisingly, conspiracy theories are not only peddled by politicians but also by bloggers and other malicious media seeking to create fear and influence consumers in their favour (Lahrach & Adrian, 90). Others have the intention of creating paranoia, fear, and scepticism to sell their news. Unfortunately, the people who believe and accept conspiracy theories often have less faith in the authorities and governing laws since they think that the authorities might be oblivious of the truths known to the media. Backed by this explanation, it is common place for some people to switch their consumer habits in favour of organic beverages and foods because of distrust for the large food companies and government agencies. This representation is summarized in figure 1 below. Ivkov adds that in the same manner that consumers react to conspiracies, the firms in the hospitality industry equally react to these news (1170). As a result, they could opt to support the ideologies held by the majority of the consumers and capitalize on their distrust and paranoia against inorganic foods and beverages.

Figure 1: Conspiracy theory and impact on demand for organic food

Theory of Social Identity

Social identity denotes the way individuals construct their self-concept based on perceived membership to a social group. The incorporation into a given group creates an in-group mentality which begins treating out-groups as rivals. Küster-Boluda and Isabel explain that when selecting an in-group, a person often aligns themselves with people sharing in their personality, and intellectual characteristics (66). This theory can therefore be applied in explaining the emergence and subsequent increase in the population of organic consumers. Rana, and Justin add to this statement noting that the theory is equally applicable in explain biased reasons justifying why people prefer organic beverages and foods (160). Brantsæter note that people tend to show a bias towards individuals or groups with rivalling ideologies (300). As a result, they associate with people they share a common sense of self to validate their view of the world. This theory thus, explains individual as well as group decisions that ultimately force the hospitality industry to react.

 Iraldo et al provide a divergent thought noting that the social identity theory could be applied in explaining the behaviour of the firms (22). Normally, the firms in the hospitality industry would want to position themselves as either providers or organic foods and beverages, those providing both organic and inorganic and those serving mostly organic. Normally, those purely focused on organic foods tend to gain a higher reputation for being considerate of the needs of the organic consumers. For this reason, the firms in the hospitality industry providing organic foods view themselves as in-groups and treat those providing inorganic foods as out-groups. A critical review of this theory shows that the personal identity held by the individuals and firms interested in organic foods and beverages, influences their social identity, forcing them to categorize themselves (Sohn et al. 643). They are then identified along these categories which triggers comparisons. The need to continuously associate with the in-group forces the individuals and firms to continuously support the organic foods and beverage movement.

Figure 2 below summarizes how the social identity theory is constructed.

Figure 2: Theory of social identity and its impact on consumer and organization behavior

Review of Key Publications and Themes

The United Nations (UN) has incessantly referred to the years 2016 to 2025 as the Decade of Nutrition. This is evident in their design of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which highlight the multiple threats posed on the global food systems and supplies, human health, and food security (Monteiro et al. 12). Prada et al. explains that the success of the SDG goals is dependent on availability of information on how foods influence the wellbeing and health of individuals (176). For this reason, the UN came up with the NOVA system of classifying foods and beverages based on purpose and extent of processing and the nature of the food. The system is aimed at providing information to guide consumers who want to make healthy choices on the hospitality facilities to patronize for quality diets and sustainable operations. This system classifies ultra-processed drinks and food products. According to its classification, these food categories are composed of cheap industrial sources of nutrient additives and dietary energy (Asioli et al. 60). These foods have high unhealthy fats, free salts and sugars, poor proteins, low dietary fibre, micronutrients, and refined starches (Sparks & Graham, 723). Such foods are cheaply available and are hyper attractive and palatable. They can also be consumed anytime and anywhere. Their presentation, formulation, and marketing encourages overindulgence.

The UN presents evidence showing that these cheap foods and drinks have replaced freshly prepared meals and minimally processed beverages. This explains the high rate of diet related non-communicable diseases. The UN’s Decade of Nutrition therefore seeks to create awareness on the downsides of the ultra-processed foods and beverages by highlighting their troublesome effects on political, environmental, social, cultural, and economic outcome of countries (Dzhandzhugazova et al. 10400). They intend to reverse this potential crisis thus encourage consumers to use organic products. They also emphasize the need for the hospitality industry to invest in innovations that increase availability of organic products (Stasi et al. 651). This explanation justifies that the impact of organic foods on the UK hospitality industry can be a result of push and pull factors, where push factors force the industry to react while pull factors incentivize the need to sale organic products.

Canziani et al. explain that the emergence of organic foods and drinks has triggered many changes to the UK’s hospitality industry. For instance, they are required to adhere to new rules and laws. This includes the emphasis on classification of restaurants based to improve customer’s decision making when patronizing facilities such as bars and restaurants. This trend is mostly noted across restaurants which have to adhere to the restaurant classification requirements. Filimonau notes that around the UK, restaurants have been forced to redesign their menu to facilitate selection of organic foods and drinks by responsible consumers (74). The redesign is specifically targeted at consumers who are conscious about the impact of restaurant food choice on their health and the environment. For instance, more customers are beginning to prefer foods with healthy calorific and nutritional characteristics while also showing preference for drinks and foods with low carbon footprint. Lerro et al. explains that the heterogeneous preference for organic foods by consumers has led to increased acceptance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) across the food and hospitality industry in the UK (1053). Scarpato et al. seconds these sentiments noting that food suppliers are equally accepting CSR and sustainability strategies to appeal to the increasingly sensitive customers who prefer ethically sourced and organic foods (2984). Iglesias et al. add to this discussion noting that there is a link between CSR, customer loyalty, and consumer trust. Therefore, firms in the hospitality industry that want to win the trust and loyalty of the customers are forced to react positively to their need for organic foods and drinks. This impact is seen in the changes in the value chain and supply chain in the hospitality industry in the UK (Baron& Carolyn, 19).

Research Aims, Objectives and Research Questions

This research aims to investigate the impact of organic food/ beverage on the hospitality industry (restaurants and bars) in the UK. Its objectives are listed as follows.

Primary Objective

  • To establish the impact of organic products namely foods and beverages on UK’s hospitality industry.

Secondary Objectives

  • To identifies theories that explain the impact of organic foods on behaviour of firms in hospitality industry.
  • To evaluate the pull factors arising from organic products craze and their impact on the hospitality industry
  • To analyse the push factors associated with organic foods and their impact on the hospitality industry

Research Questions

  • Has the craze for organic products impacted hospitality industry in the UK?
  • What are the pull factors associated with organic foods and drinks that have necessitated changes to the hospitality industry
  • What are the push factors arising from organic products that has impacted the hospitality industry?

Justification and Contextualization

This research is important since it fills in a knowledge gap. A critical analysis of current literature exhibits a paucity in the research on the impact of organic foods and drinks on the hospitality industry in the UK. By focusing mainly on restaurants and bars, this research provides novel information that educates readers on the impacts of organic foods on various industries, mainly the hospitality industry. These findings are useful to consumers in justifying their need to be health and environmental conscious (Petrescu et al. 169). The information collected further justifies the need for the hospitality industry to be proactive in understanding consumer behaviour and responding accordingly. Third, the information collected is useful to legislators, locally, nationally, and internationally as they attempt to establish procedures and policies on how best to enhance the wellness of their populations. The information presented through this research will guide their debates and deliberation on legislations that will help reform industrial practices to encourage better health. For instance, the legislations should encourage more transparency in presenting information on foods and drinks served in bars and restaurants (Allcott et al. 12). In addition, the legislations should punish firms that fail to provide information that guides consumer decision making.

The findings made in the research will build on the existing body of evidence. For instance, there is evidence that consumer preferences are switching in favour of organic foods and drinks, however, there is a dearth of information on the correlation between these impacts and the current performance of the UK hospitality industry (Bowie, 43). Some of the questions that could be answered this research is to establish whether the demand for organic foods has increased. If so, has the trend been observed in the restaurants and bars across the UK? Apart from the impacts identified by past researchers, what other concerns are raised by the managers and other stakeholders in the UK hospitality industry? Is there concern that the increased demand for organic food will lead to demand for more certificates such as fair trade and fair sourcing? This research seeks to answer most of these questions. It will achieve this goal by analysing hypothesizing the behaviour of the hospitality firms in the UK is a result of either push or pull factors, or a combination of both in the sense that they can interact to influence the response by the restaurants and the bars (Bowie, 44). Also, it is certain that the consumers demand for organic foods and beverages goes beyond the bars and restaurants. For example, it is possible that the pressure to produce organic drinks and foods have potentially impacted the supply chain and value chains of the respective firms in the industry.

Given that the firms have to react to the demands posed by the customers, failure to which they will lose out on their target market segments, it is imperative that this research will fill in research gaps and widen the scope of existing evidence on the topic of organic foods and drinks and their impact on the hospitality industry. As reiterated by the UN, the topic of food is a growing concern, thus, this research is timely as it coincides with the UNs Decade of Nutrition agenda initiated in 2016 and expected to run until 2025 (Monteiro et al. 12). By filing in the identified knowledge gaps, this research responds to existing needs on healthy lifestyle and environmental sustainability.


Research Process

The aim of this research will be reached by designing a research paradigm, outlining methodological approach, techniques, methods, target population, sample size, data collection equipment, and approach to data analysis. The whole research will be guided by the onion model of research as posited by Saunders (Saunders, Phillip & Adrian, 3). This model elaborates six layers that guide the research process. It begins with the identification of a suitable research philosophy. The philosophy then guides the identification of research approaches, choice, strategy, sampling methods, research limitations, delimitations, and research techniques. To begin with, there are two research philosophies; positivism and interpretivism. The interpretivism is preferred for this research since it facilitates collection of objective finds. On the contrary, positivism could create avenues for subjective collection and interpretation of findings thus not suitable for this research.

The interpretivism philosophy works best with inductive research approach while the positivism philosophy complements the deductive approach. The inductive approach requires that the researcher collects data and information from research participants. The findings are then used to make inferences. The third layer details research strategies. Saunders et al. define strategies as the plans used in data collection (10). They include case studies, action research, desk research, surveys, experiments, and ethnography. Out of these strategies, the surveys are the most useful. Action research, also known as theme-based interpretation focuses on identifying the purpose of the research and explains the process of diagnosing a problem after which it establishes future implications. In this case, finding the implications of organic foods on the hospitality industry in the UK will enable the researcher to identity future implications of the continuing demand for organic foods on restaurants and bars.

Research choices provide directions on how best to conduct the research. There are quantitative and qualitative research choices. This research uses qualitative research which entails presenting non-numerical data and findings (Eriksson & Anne, 15). The data collected can be used to make logical analysis and explanations of concepts on the impact of organic foods on the target industry. Another significant part of the research process is identifying sampling methods. According to Yeomans, sampling entails identifying a representative population instead of focusing on the whole population (11). To ease the data collection process, this research will use convenience sampling. This process is unlike other sampling methods namely stratified, cluster, simple random, and systematic sampling. Convenience sampling identifies available sample populations based on the discretion of the researcher (Saunders & Keith, 23). This process makes it easier to identify restaurants and bars that are closest to the researcher or those that will provide the much needed information. Thirty managers will be sampled and presented with open ended questionnaires to facilitate collection of information on how they perceive the impact of organic foods on the bars and restaurants. The research will then be conducted in one sitting thus, affirming the use of a cross-sectional research. The collected data will be analysed through sorting and identification of common themes and patterns.

Access and Ethics

The research had access to secondary information. The information was collected to ease literature review. The researcher identified credible databases such as Ebscohost and Google Scholar which provided resources with matching topics and subject areas on organic foods and the responses by the hospitality industry. The information was used to inform opinions on the expected results. Even while collecting the secondary information, it was prudent to acknowledge the need to adhere to ethical principles on conducting actual researches. Some of the basic ethical requirements include the need for consent from the institutions authorizing the research and the respondents involved in the research (Saunders et al. 33). Given that this research is academic in nature, the authorities at the university had to accent to the research process. Secondly, the researcher had to present the respondents with consent forms. In addition, the respondents were informed of their rights to answer the research questions as they deemed fit for them and not to be coerced in any way. They were further assured of confidentiality of the whole research process.

Limitation and Delimitations

Given the possibility of experiencing limitations such as the identification of suitable sample populations, it is prudent to have delimitations. It was necessary to increase the number of research population to collect diverse views that would help make more informed inferences on the topic of interest.




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