Footprint Blog

DEFRA Madness

Posted in Comment,Government,News by foodservicefootprint on June 30, 2009


Yesterday saw the end of the government’s consultation on a new independent body for animal health. It is being widely argued that this new quango is an attempt to shift cost, responsibility and most importantly accountability away from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the event of a major outbreak of animal disease. Given the government’s previous negligence (the outbreak of foot and mouth on a farm in Surrey due to the leak from the laboratory being a prime example) and the imports of animals from high risk areas, we fear that further epidemics are highly likely.

Charlie Brooks, in the Daily Telegraph argues ‘It [the government] wants to wipe its hands of the problem now, by hiving off 240 staff from DEFRA and transferring their associated costs to farmers and animal owners’.

Brooks is absolutely right as it does involve new taxes: £10.50 per horse, £4.80 per dairy cow, £1.20 for beef animals, £0.82 a sheep. In addition compulsory insurance will have to be purchased by livestock owners, presumably at high premiums given the inevitability of further outbreaks.

Why create another quango at the expense of an industry that is barely taken into consideration? Surely the long term implication of this is a rise in the cost of meat, making things even more difficult for foodservice?


Industry first for Sodexo as it secures Red Tractor certification across multiple sites

(all Sodexo UK and Ireland, left to right): Steve Jobson, buying director; Caroline Rofe, senior buyer; Tamsin Gane, sustainable procurement manager; Michelle Hanson, commercial director, Aidan Connolly, chief executive

(left to right): Steve Jobson, buying director; Caroline Rofe, senior buyer; Tamsin Gane, sustainable procurement manager; Michelle Hanson, commercial director, Aidan Connolly, chief executive

Sodexo, a leading food and facilities management services provider, has today announced that it has been awarded the Red Tractor certification across multiple sites, demonstrating its widespread commitment to supplying customers with quality produce sourced from British farms.

From today, 450 sites in Sodexo’s education, healthcare and defence sectors will be providing milk and cream and fruit and vegetables that have been produced to Red Tractor standards at every critical link in the supply chain. This ensures that the products are fully traceable from field to fork. Furthermore, it means that all of Sodexo’s suppliers, processing plants and, where relevant, animal welfare, will have been independently inspected.

Sodexo has also shown evidence of complying with approved standards for food safety and responsible management of pesticides. Via its supplier, Sodexo will support British farmers by procuring over 80 listed lines of fruit and vegetables when they are in season – such as carrots, strawberries, leeks and potatoes.

The move is further evidence of Sodexo’s drive to ensure that it supports and sources sustainable and ethical produce wherever possible. Only recently, Sodexo announced that it was to expand Aspretto, its fair trade-based hot beverage offer (tea and coffee) offer, to client sites throughout the world following completion of a successful introductory pilot on 20 sites in five countries. This came in addition to the news that Sodexo has become the first school meals provider to achieve Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation across multiple school contracts in England and Wales.

Michelle Hanson, commercial director, Sodexo UK and Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be in a position to make this announcement. As part of our sustainable procurement strategy, it is incredibly important for us to support British farmers as much as possible and, via the Red Tractor scheme, we are able to provide our customers with a guarantee that their food has reached their plate from the most ethical and sustainable British sources. The work doesn’t stop here as we are currently in the process of further enhancing our sustainable procurement activities by working with a number of other partners.” David Clarke, chief executive at Assured Food Standards, the organisation that runs the Red Tractor scheme said: ‘We are delighted that Sodexo, a leading global provider of food is committed to sourcing quality farm assured fruit & vegetables and milk & cream’.

Pret A Manger – False Reportage!

Nicki Fisher, Sustainability Manager, Pret A Manger

Nicki Fisher, Sustainability Manager, Pret A Manger

It was widely reported last week that Pret A Manger had ceased selling Bluefin Tuna, which is simply not true!

As Nicki Fisher, Sustainability Manager at Pret A Manger told one of the directors of Footprint, ‘I have been fighting this for weeks’

Foodservice Footprint would like to put things straight. The actual facts are that Pret serves Skip Jack tuna but had been looking for an alternative for the last six months amid growing concern of the plight of tuna fish as a whole. Pret was galvanised into immediate action having managed to see a preview of Charles Clover’s The End of The Line a few months ago.

The simple facts are that Pret never served Bluefin Tuna. Yellowfin Tuna was served in the Pret sushi boxes, which has now been replaced with Salmon Trout. Otherwise only the dolphin friendly Skip Jack Tuna had been used, as it was not in danger of being over fished, given its fast breeding, fast growing nature. The natural populations are perpetually at healthy levels.

As Nicki said, ‘We now know that the issue with dolphin-friendly is that it is not friendly to any other creature in the sea. Purse Seine nets are used which are pretty indiscriminate – catching turtles, sharks, rays and also Bluefin Tuna. Once Pret realised this, we had to find an alternative sustainable solution.’

Pret sells over 7000kg of tuna in various products every week; it makes up almost 4% of the companies sales but as Nicki emphasised, ‘Finding a sustainable solution was imperative. Therefore the Food Team have been working tirelessly for the past few months to secure supply of Pole and Line caught Skip Jack Tuna’. In simple terms Pole and Line caught tuna has no by catch issue on the basis that only the individual fish is caught….

As ever, Pret have been nothing but transparent and their cause was, in many cases misrepresented.

Mrs. Paisley’s Lashings

Posted in Comment,Food Trends,Foodservice Footprint news,News,Sustainability by foodservicefootprint on June 27, 2009

No, this is not about a sadistic matron!

Arthur Potts Dawson and Jo Wood have collaborated in the new venture of Mrs Paisley’s Lashing’s. The project is dedicated to a new approach to dining in demanding times. It is an innovative venture offering a pop up restaurant experience that symbolises the importance of moving towards living and eating in a more sustainable way.

The venue is a temporary concept that springs up out of nowhere and disappears quickly on the edge of Richmond Park (Jo Woods’ garden according to The Telegraph).

The restaurant is open for dinner from June 25th until July 8th. More information see  

With fossil fuels dwindling and the global population increasing, the project aims to illuminate the importance of sourcing food locally or growing it yourself. The organisers view is that it’s time we took environmentally conscious responsibility for the waste we produce and the food we eat.

Supported by the Soil Association the project is a progressive and glamorous approach to teaching healthy eating, conscious living, good cooking, food and the future.

A percentage of gross takings will be donated to the Food For Life charity.

Sir Paul flexes muscle

According to a UN study published in 2006, the livestock industry is responsible for a staggering 18% of man’s global greenhouse gas emissions partly due to the deforestation in the Amazon. It is generally acknowledged even by Dr. Rejandra Pachauri, the leading authority on climate change, that going meat free once a week, would be the most attractive way for individuals to reduce CO2 emissions.

For this reason, Sir Paul McCartney’s campaign to have a meat-free day a week  in order to cut carbon emissions makes sense and might be worth consideration for foodservice.

McCartney’s mission is supported by high profile chef’s such as Giorgio Locatelli, Yotam Ottolenghi and restaurateur Oliver Peyton is also highlighting meat free dishes.

I suppose we will only be able to establish a link between reduction in carbon emissions and the meat industry once the industry works in unity towards this! Perhaps one might be able to propose an equivalent to WWF’s Earth Day!

Here are some interesting facts that might support Meat Free Monday.

To produce a single  kilogram of beef, farmers have to feed a cow 15kg of grain and 30kg of forage. It is a highly energy intensive business that is ultimately not sustainable. Livestock production is responsible for 70% of the deforestation of the Amazon jungle and by 2050, the world’s livestock population is expected to rise from 60 billion farm animals to 120 billion. It is a scary fact when you consider that in a day a single cow can produce 500 litres of methane, a gas that has about 25 times the global warming impact of CO2.

But how would a meat free Monday have a positive impact on the environment? Simple!  It would slow the projected growth of an industry, expanding at unprecedented levels in order to keep up with demand. This is not about vegetarianism, soya and nut-roasts. Livestock farming is responsible for a huge proportion of the worlds greenhouse gases, therefore, the objective is for restaurateurs to educate the consumer, and collectively bring an industry that has an even greater impact on the environment than the transport industry, back to sustainable levels.

If a die-hard carnivore such as Oliver Peyton can see the sense in this and is promoting meat free dishes in his restaurants every Monday, then maybe so can I. All operators would have to do is highlight a meat free dish every monday an explain exactly the reasons why it is doing so.

Maybe not tree-hugging veggie madness after all!

For more info

Nando’s set’s an example

Posted in Comment,Equipment,Foodservice Footprint news,International,News,Sustainability by foodservicefootprint on June 27, 2009


In Tony Naylors post on The Guardian’s website ‘Nando’s – Green or Greenwash’, he offers us an insight into Nando’s Junction 27 branch, near Leeds. This particular Nando’s site collects oil from other Nando’s sites and converts this into bio-fuels which drive a micro generator at the site. Amongst other eco-drives, the recycled cooking oil scheme has reduced carbon emissions by 90% compared to the use of mineral fuels. Yet, as Naylor argues, the awe of this project quickly fades on closer inspection. In a year this particular Nando’s site produce 70,000 litres of waste oil. This can be recycled to generate 250,000 KWh of electricity. According to Naylor Nando’s would not comment how long this would power the site for, nor would they elaborate on why the waste oil generator is only providing 50% of the sites electricity.

Although Mr. Naylor says he tries not to be a cynic, he does think that Nando’s efforts could be interpreted as a gimmick when one compares these efforts to ‘genuine’ eco pioneers behind Konstram, the Duke of Cambridge, Acorn House or the Water House.

To us this highlights the misunderstanding towards the hospitality industry. One cannot compare a multiple-estate business such as Nando’s to the top end Acorn House set-up. These are juxtaposed business models that have very different objectives. Tony Naylor focuses on the integrity of sourcing sustainably but little do the public know about the amount of equipment that goes into multiple estate businesses such as Nando’s and the amount of energy used! Therefore, we think it is wrong to label Nando’s efforts as a possible ‘green wash’. Schemes such as this set an example to the industry and should be supported wholeheartedly. Pioneers, such as Arthur Potts Dawson, are motivated by the integrity of the green projects, whereas Nando’s have launched a pilot scheme that will either work or not but in the meantime should not be shot down in flames.

Food safety compliance hampering small business says WHO & FAO

Posted in 1 by foodservicefootprint on June 26, 2009


Last year, Footprint expressed concern as to the practices and spiraling effects of the accreditation industry to which recent contamination events, such as melamine in milk, salmonella in nuts and E.coli in dough, have provided opportunity to make even more stringent requirements.

‘The last 10 years has seen an explosion in food industry accreditation and third party inspectors, to the extent that what started out as independent assessment of working practices has turned into an industry employing thousands. Legislation has been the fuel for this explosion and the costs of managing adherence to their standards has become a major cost to food industry operators in whatever sphere.

The problem with having third party organizations as inspectors is that the nature of profit making organizations is that they have to keep coming up with ‘new products’ in order to extract maximum revenue from their ‘clients’.’

Now, a report has been released for next weeks meeting in Rome of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint World Health Organization (WHO) and Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) body on food safety, which sounds as if it springs from the pages of a Dan Brown novel.

The report comments that compliance to additional requirements, over and above those legislated by government, is making it difficult for smaller companies to compete against larger rivals …”to the extent that there are economies of scale in compliance and/or larger firms are better able to access finance and other resources, compliance processes are likely to induce processes of consolidation and concentration…”.

The study says that the biggest constraints were being felt in poorer nations and that small players may need assistance to avoid being squeezed out of the market by the drive to sanitize the food chain.

“Exporters of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy and seafood must comply with multi-tiered requirements including quality grades and standards, traceability requirements, labels of origin, phytosanitary controls and food safety standards, of both a regulatory and private nature,” it said. “It is evident that a number of developing countries, and exporters and producers therein, face challenges in complying.”

Clearly there is a need for the effective policing of food safety standards, but surely we need to be careful this compliance culture does not stifle the production of ‘proper’ food to traditional methods in favour of homogenized ‘factory’ product.

Nespresso targets 80% sustainable sourcing by 2013

Posted in 1 by foodservicefootprint on June 24, 2009

Nestle Nespresso, the coffee brand currently sold in 18 of the World’s top 50 restaurants, aims to source 80%  of its coffee from farms deemed sustainable by 2013, the company claims.

Nespresso’s sustainable coffee falls under its AAA Sustainable Quality Program and includes beans grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. The coffee is delivered via individual capsules and Nespresso claims it will triple its capacity to recycle the used capsules to 75% by 2013, as well as reduce the overall carbon footprint in producing every cup of its coffee by 20%.

Nespresso estimate that the total carbon dioxide emissions generated from its operations is 82 grams per cup, from cultivation to delivery.

Source: Reuters 23/06/2009     

Fish Stocks – Very, Very Topical

Posted in 1,Foodservice Footprint news,International,Provenance,Sustainability,Sustainable Sourcing by foodservicefootprint on June 12, 2009


Please have a look at this link – make sure you click ‘next’ on the image – it is fascinating!

French Organic Food Sales Grow Despite Trend

Posted in 1 by foodservicefootprint on June 1, 2009

Source: Reuters

1st June 2009 


Sales of organic food in France jumped 25 percent last year and more than 60 percent in three years to reach 2.6 billion euros, France‘s organic association “Agence Bio” said on Friday.

It did not give any forecast for 2009 but has said it expected the French organic food sector to continue growing, although maybe at a slower rate, as more consumers seek to avoid pesticides and genetically-modified organisms.

The government is also encouraging organic food in schools and restaurants.

“Today, organic products are present everywhere, in all distribution and consumption channels,” it said.

The agency did not provide data for 2006 but said the rise in organic food sales between 2005 and 2007 was 26 percent.

However, the share of organic food in total food sales was still thin at 1.7 percent in 2008, against 1.1 percent in 2007.

To meet swelling demand, farmers increasingly switched to organic agriculture with the land devoted to organic food nearly tripling in nine years to 580,000 hectares, against 210,000 hectares in 1999, Agence Bio said.

Growth rates in most major organic food markets, such as the United States, Germany or Britain, have weakened in recent months as countries have been hit by the economic downturn.

But in many countries the trend had already started in 2008.

Britain’s Soil Association said in a report last month that sales of organic products in the UK had slowed to 1.7 percent in 2008, well below the average annual growth rate of 26 percent over the last decade.

In Italy, purchases of packaged organic foods with bar codes rose by 5.4 percent in value in 2008, down from a 10.2 percent growth in 2007, according to a survey of Italian families released in February.