Footprint Blog


Envirowise Business Thrift Shift report gives insight

Almost three-quarters (73%) of businesses surveyed have developed a more detailed knowledge of their spending and resource use as a result of the recession, according to The Envirowise Business Thrift Shift Report.

This includes everything from investment in raw materials, transport and energy, to staffing, equipment and professional services.

For the hotel and catering industry, reduction of water and energy use was the biggest area of cut back (75%), with a large number also minimising spend on raw materials and consumables. And this ‘thrift shift’ is set to continue when the recovery comes, with 79% of respondents citing a greater emphasis on energy efficiency in particular as a possible legacy of the recession.

Sodexo launches Better Tomorrow Plan!

Sodexo announces the launch of its ‘Better Tomorrow Plan’, which aims to consolidate Sodexo’s sustainability performance and provide a framework to measure the impact of the company’s actions worldwide.

Sodexo’s strategy is built around three pillars:

  • ‘We are’ – which embraces values and ethics
  • ‘We do’ – which sets out 14 commitments to action on sustainability challenges
  • ‘We engage’ – which recognises the dialogue required to translate commitments into action

The 14 key commitments are spread across health, nutrition and wellness, local communities and the environment. Progress will be monitored with milestone assessments currently anticipated in 2012, 2015 and 2020.

For each of its commitments, Sodexo is developing phased plans and indicators to measure the degree of implementation and impact across the business.

Apart from announcements on Nutrition, Health, Wellness as well as Local Communities, Environment is key in this announcement.

With 33,900 sites in 80 countries, Sodexo is committed to implementing practices and policies that minimise its environmental impacts. Commitments in this area include:

  • ensuring compliance with a Global Sustainable Supply Chain Code of Conduct in all the countries where it operates by 2015.
  • sourcing local, seasonal or sustainably grown products in all the countries where it operates by 2015.
  • sourcing sustainable fish and seafood in all the countries where it operates by 2015.
  • sourcing and promoting sustainable equipment and supplies in all the countries where it operates by 2020.
  • reducing the company’s carbon footprint in all the countries where it operates and at client sites by 2020.
  • reducing its water footprint in all the countries where it operates and at client sites by 2020.
  • reducing organic waste in all the countries where it operates and at client sites by 2015 and supporting initiatives to recover organic waste.
  • reducing non-organic waste in all the countries where it operates and at client sites by 2015 and supporting initiatives to recover non-organic waste.

Thomas Jelley, corporate citizenship manager for Sodexo UK and Ireland, said: “Our mission is to improve the quality of life for the people we serve and contribute to the economic, social and environmental development of the areas where we operate. Through this ten-year sustainable development strategy, we are committing to continuous improvement through a challenging but robust and structured approach.”

First ‘Foodservice’ Footprint Forum on sustainability calls on Government to do more!

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Footprint Forum 8th of October 2009

The inaugural Footprint Forum, sponsored by Sodexo on HMS Belfast in London, brought together the great and the good of the foodservice industry to discuss the burning issue of the day – how to achieve sustainability throughout the industry.

A panel of industry experts debated a wide range of concerns including waste, procurement, the confusion in some areas between organic and sustainable, fishing, equipment and energy, transport and incentives offered by the Carbon Trust to buy new greener kit.

Introducing the Forum, Footprint Media Group CEO Nick Fenwicke-Clennell said “the objective of Footprint Forum is to create an environment where the decision makers and influencers of this industry can come together to debate the issues, exchange ideas and benefit from the knowledge of others as we drive towards a more sustainable future for foodservice.”

The keynote address by chef Cyrus Todiwala MBE, concentrated on the huge problem of waste produced by the hospitality industry and how best to combat it. Todiwala’s multiple award winning restaurant, Café Spice Namasté is a showcase for sustainable practice. He is a highly vocal environmental campaigner and chairs the Waste Committee for London.

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Cyrus Todiwala speaking at Footprint Forum HMS Belfast 8th October 2009

Todiwala’s controversial take on the problem of waste is that collectors should pay operators to take it away, as happens in India. This would, said Cyrus, encourage people to segregate and conserve for recycling and save operators a fortune into the bargain. “In India newspapers, empty bottles, used clothes, pots and pans, old wood, scrap iron/steel, wood, aluminium, cardboard and cartons are all paid for by the waste collectors. People are very careful about how they store their valuable rubbish – scrap buyers come to your doorstep asking for rubbish to buy or exchange for new goods. I firmly believe that if India were a thousand miles closer to the UK I would become a millionaire just selling scrap from the UK,” he said. “The system we use in the UK is ridiculous and is the reason why there is no incentive for people to dispose of their useful rubbish effectively.

Restaurants and hotels pay hefty amounts to have their rubbish cleared away. Those of us who are environmentally conscious end up paying much, much more, thereby eliminating any incentive. The collectors, however, make massive profits since they sell on our rubbish by the tonnage and charge us for collecting it as well. “Waste disposal operators contracted by councils and other authorities should be made competitive. They should be made to collect free – if not actually to buy the rubbish. That way everyone would make sure they put their rubbish out as carefully as they can and not mix and pile it randomly. “Foodservice has to lead the way. Ideally, in five years time, if we all act collectively we will get manufacturers, producers and collectors all listening and doing exactly what we wish them to do which is to help us to create a zero waste community of end users,” said Todiwala.

He also went on to deplore the ‘unjoined up thinking’ afflicting many schemes designed to push sustainability. “There is a failure to communicate between initiatives and this leads to duplication of effort. There are several streams of Government funding going into several projects, the problem is no one knows about the various initiatives and often the organisations involved within those initiatives themselves don’t know what is going on and end up duplicating work someone else is doing.”

As Todiwala finished to applause from the delegates, the panel of experts chaired by Peter Backman of Horizons assembled to take questions from the audience. An expert on the structure and dynamics of the foodservice sector, and its supply chain in the UK and across Europe, Backman regularly speaks at conferences in North America and Europe.

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Footprint Forum Panel HMS Belfast 8th of October 2009

Responding to questions from the floor the general consensus of opinion from the panel was that although a lot has been done and improvement is ongoing it is just scratching the surface, not just on the problem of waste but also addressing other sustainable issue such as fishing, incentives for procurement both of energy efficient equipment and food and drink. The panel also echoed Todiwala’s concerns that there is no ‘joined up thinking’ from Government and there is a need for more incentives for operators to buy into sustainability.

Glenn Roberts of refrigeration giant Gram said: “The problem we see at Gram is that although the Government, in the form of the Carbon Trust, is doing good work promoting sustainability in the media it needs to understand ‘Catering plc’ better. The Carbon Trust’s Energy Technology List (ETL) lists 18,000 products in all that are eligible for Government tax breaks because they are ‘green’. In catering, only refrigeration figures on the list. Bearing in mind that refrigeration accounts for a mere 6 per cent of energy consumption in kitchens this is not enough, more equipment needs to be on the list. But first we need to know how energy is used in commercial kitchens. There needs to be a benchmark for prime cooking and other equipment. The catering Equipment Manufacturers Association (CESA) is currently lobbying the Carbon Trust and it is clear the Trust doesn’t understand the foodservice sector. As for manufacturers, we must listen to the market place. It is vital that we do this. Sustainable products are more expensive and very difficult to sell in the current climate.” Gram performed a survey of the industry two years ago and is now conducting another one to show the amount of change since then. The Gram Green Paper offers insight and statistical information on a range of areas such as operators’ interpretation of what green means to their business, as well as demonstrating personal green initiatives currently in place. It also highlights perceptions on cost/saving implications as well as which sectors could be doing more to ensure foodservice is an environmentally responsible industry. “The findings showed people are desperate to do something decisive. The market place can be bothered: they just want to be show how,” he said. “However, we have found there is a gap between what people say they want and what they do. The driving force is for the procurement department to save money. Joined up thinking doesn’t happen. If it costs £1400 to replace a refrigerator with an energy efficient version, they will go for the £900 option even though it uses 5-6 times more energy and will struggle to maintain temperature. It is very hard to get people to take that on board. After all, they may well be thinking that they may not be in business next year so why pay the extra?” he said. Thomas Jelly of Sodexo suggested that large companies that commit to sustainability should be ranked in a league table. He said that incentives in the form of tax reductions would get finance departments thinking hard and would get them behind the initiative.

Ian Booth, Technical Director of fresh food supplier Reynolds said: “In the public sector local government should set objectives such as the percentage of sustainability in procurement to be achieved whether it be in equipment, food – everything. The Government must do this to make it work. It will be interesting to see where that will go. Europe is telling Government to look at procurement.”

Mike Berthet, Director of Fish & Seafood, M&J Seafoods said: “It is disappointing that the Government has not set the pace. I raised this question with Hilary Benn recently at an open forum. The Government just hasn’t taken the lead. There should be two fish dishes on school menus per week and the fish should be from a sustainable source.” He had some good news to impart, however, telling delegates of positive initiatives taken by the fishing industry. One example he cited was that of seven boats out of Scotland now have video cameras rigged to the trawl so they can see what fish is being discarded. “One guy has a camera on the underwater trawl bar – if he sees they are about to catch cod when they are over quota they can simply reel in and start again. This is also invaluable, say, if they start fishing in an area with too many juvenile cod. They can pack up and move to another area. The area with the juvenile cod can then be closed to fishing for a month to allow stocks to grow.” Berthet also told delegates that we have the raw materials for producing fish feed for sustainable aqua culture literally on our doorsteps. “Ragworm can be farmed from any old detritus. There are billions of tonnes of that in London alone of that in London alone,” he said.

Ian Booth made the valuable point that there is confusion about ‘organic’ and ‘sustainable’ products with some people thinking they are the same thing: a comment that was greeted with agreement from the panel and the delegates.

Thomas Jelley said: “Sustainability is not about one product being local or one recyclable. We have to take in other individual components such as transport and put it all together seamlessly.”

Heidi Easby of Brakes warned that working out a long term strategy takes time and industry employees have their part to play, saying that it sometimes pays to start from basics. “To really try to change the ethos of people in business it is important not to just concentrate on mileage. It is possible to have day to day impact. At Brakes we have no bins at desks so staff have to walk to recycle points to chuck stuff away. This has reduced waste by 40 per cent. Big schemes may require financing but small things like this work well.”

“Smaller things persuade the industry to take responsibility. Why not ask staff what they want to do?” responded Jelley.

“What we do in the crunch to offset against a lower income will work in better times. This is a good time to make changes and when things get better everybody is used to it,” said Todiwala.

“Ultimately, the Government must set out standards to look at the bigger picture. Sustainability is ultimately win-win for everybody,” concluded Ian Booth, who seemed to echo the thoughts of most people at the event.

Charles Miers, Managing Director of Footprint Media Group reflected: “It is desperately sad that the industry, friend or foe, haven’t cooperated more. Seeing all these influencers under one roof, nevermind talking to each other is unheard of – we changed that today! Let’s hope that this might set the precedence going forward.”

Join the Debate! Footprint Forum: HMS Belfast, October 8th

FOOTPRINT FORUMEarth on a plate LR

On 8th October the Footprint Forum is launched on HMS Belfast, kindly sponsored by sodexo. 

Few business decisions are made today without considering their impact on a sustainable environment. In UK foodservice this is hardly surprising when it is estimated that the industry uses 21.6 million kWh of energy, adds 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and creates over 3 million tonnes of food waste, all in the course of a calendar year!

From its inception, the objective of Footprint was to provide the foodservice sector with a single reference point to learn about and debate the environmental issues that were impacting the industry. Today, as we have become more enlightened on this issue, the story is arguably reversed and has become how the industry is impacting the environment and how we can reduce this! Irrespective, we wanted to create a transparency to the issues involved and to enable operators to access the debate using the medium of their choice; in essence, to become the ‘go to’ place for information on this subject.

Foodservice Footprint is still the only industry specific publication dedicated to the subject and with the foodservicefootprint.com blog attracting increasing numbers of visitors, we are now entering the physical interaction arena with the launch of the Footprint Forum.

The objective of the Footprint Forum is to bring together the industry’s key decision makers and opinion formers; those with the power to influence, be it from a corporate, media or political stand point, to initiate cultural change.

Members will hail from all stages of the foodservice supply chain and others, such as those in the food waste conversion arena, whose businesses have a direct relationship with the industry. Footprint Forum is not a conference, it is not a lecture, but a Forum/Symposium, which is entirely interactive and will allow members to air their opinions, uncover the paradoxes and hypocrisies, and be seen within the right environment. We are simply encouraging transparency, debate and cooperation to find the right balance between commercial and environmental realities. We would also like to think that, as Footprint Forum develops, we will be able to generate a consensus that will offer members the chance to play their part in improving the industry and provide a platform for exercising leverage, as a body, on government.

The first meeting takes place on October 8th, aboard the WWII battleship, HMS Belfast, moored on the Thames near London Bridge. This will open with a keynote address by Cyrus Todiwala on Food Waste and its implications. This is a subject particularly relevant to the foodservice industry, as one can see from the statistic above, and one that Cyrus has been highly vocal about for a few years now. When we read that produce farmers, growing for supermarkets, forecast on having to dispose of 30% of their crop for failing one criteria or another, and then hear that 30% of that accepted is then thrown away unsold, we realize the staggering levels of wastage going on.

Cyrus’s address and discussion period will be followed Footprint Panel, a Question Time style Q&A session with a panel of senior industry experts lending their knowledge on a range of environmental issues. The panel is being chaired by Peter Backman of Horizons, who will act as compere, timekeeper and referee, and will offer delegates a first hand, practical insight into the realities of some of the key talking points of the moment.

The first Footprint Forum will finish with a presentation on organic wine by Dan Senior of Corney & Barrow, tantalizingly entitled Green Whites and Reds, which will take us all into the world of organic winemaking and expound on the theories of biodynamics. It will, of course, be necessary to sample some of Dan’s delightful wines during a closer networking session.

The Forum will come together for a General Meeting four times a year at various venues. In addition, we will be forming Special Interest Groups (SIG’s) which will exclusively focus on separate areas such as Equipment, Distribution, Contract Catering, Manufacturing etc, and will be encouraged to meet separately. There will be a summer and Christmas party and a Forum member will have the added advantage of having exclusive access to the full membership, together with research and information made available only to the Footprint Forum membership.

For information about joining Footprint Forum, please contact admin@footprint-forum.com

Caviar: A wonderful tale of stock replenishment

pettrossian.com

pettrossian.com

Caviar, possibly one of the greatest symbols of wealth, could assume quite a different status with commendable ecological side effects.

Caviar is in desperately short supply due to the unsustainable harvesting of the wild sturgeon in the Caspian Sea, where most of the world’s caviar is presently produced. The situation became dire after the break up of the Soviet Union, which led to the virtual collapse of management and control systems. A century ago, rivers and seas were stuffed with sturgeon, even in Britain.

Sergei Trachook who owns a fish farm called Mottra, near Riga in Latvia has a vision that ‘one day our rivers will be teeming again’, according to The Times.

Mr Trachook doesn’t kill his sturgeon, instead milks the fish for their roe using ultrasound technology and massage, before swiftly returning them unharmed into temperature controlled tanks. He has started to deposit young fish into the nearby Daugva River with a view to replenishing wild stocks.

50g of farmed Mottra Osetra is half the price of wild caviar and once he opens more farms, he will be able to bring the price down even further. Mottra is not the only eco-friendly caviar farm but he claims that other farmed caviar producers make a larger incision, which must be sewn up afterwards, thereby limiting the times the fish can be milked.

According to The Times top chefs are already taking note. Richard Corrigan has put it on the menu of his Mayfair restaurant, Corrigan’s, ‘impressed as much by its clean flavour as by its green credentials’.

The ironies of the Green Revolution being debated after Borlaug’s death

Posted in Comment,Diet,Economics,Foodservice Footprint news,Government,International,News,Produce,Sustainability by foodservicefootprint on September 15, 2009
agbioworld.org

agbioworld.org

Norman Borlaug died this weekend. His name will mean little to most, but his work has come to symbolise the ironies that we face in the debate about a greener food industry. Many of these mirror Footprint’s efforts to take a view of all aspects of food – from farm to fork.

Norman Borlaug was a genius and also a Nobel Prize winner. His work as an agronomist caused the Green Revolution and prevented continuous post war global food shortages.

In his crop breeding programme Borlaug developed a clutch of wheat varieties with a short stem. Compared with the taller wheats, the short-strawed types shifted a higher proportion of plant sugars into the seedhead, thus enabling higher yields. However, in order to achieve this, the plant required  huge amounts of chemical fertiliser. This green revolution led to an almost 100% increase in harvests in India and Pakistan during the late 60’s.

According to Graham Harvey in The Times, ‘Altogether more than a billion people are believed to have been saved from starvation as a result of the new varieties’. Borlaug intended this to help people across the planet but instead the agricultural and economic opportunity was seized by industrial countries with the wealth to pay for expensive seeds and fertiliser.

‘Today Borlaug’s ideas underpin the global food system. Three quarters of the world’s cultivated land is sewn to grain crops and oilseed. Most are dependent on massive amounts of oil energy in the form of nitrate fertilisers, pesticides, diesel fuel and heavy machinary’, comments Harvey.

The Green Revolution has given the world more food over the last half century but has led to ‘widespread environmental damage that may reduce the planet’s capacity to feed future generations’.

‘No less than 1.9 billion hectares of farmland has been degraded by modern grain growing techniques. Growing annual grain crops such as wheat over lengthy periods inevitably leads to soil damage. The land must be ploughed and cultivated each year and for long periods if left bare, a condition that seldom arises in nature. Stripped of vegetation cover, the soil’s organic matter starts to burn up or oxidise, releasing carbon into the atmosphere and adding to the greenhouse gas burden. The process is hastened by heavy inputs of chemical fertiliser and pesticides. With the loss of organic matter the soil’s structure is weakened so it becomes unstable and subject to erosion, either by wind or rainfall.’

The ambiguity speaks for itself and really highlights the struggle we are facing and why an understanding at industry level is so important.

It’s taken long enough for the EU to show sound judgement!

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What are MEP’s doing? Rather than defining how small toothpicks have to be, or worrying about the speed at which train doors close, Brussels seems to have finally caught on to actual environmental emergencies.

After what has been referred to as a ‘breakthrough’ in Brussels, Europe has finally said it will list Bluefin Tuna as an endangered species, while further scientific studies on the latest population figures of the species are carried out.

The 27 countries of the EU are expected to vote on suspending the trade on bluefin tuna. If these votes receive international support all international trade may be prohibited.

Maybe foodservice’s voice is being heard!

Pioneering Farming formula in the Home Counties

A new farming method has arrived in the UK. Thanet Earth covers 18ha (the size of 25 football pitches) and is modelled on a Dutch farming approach. Based on high-intensity horticulture pioneered in the Netherlands, the farm boasts seven reservoirs to catch rain water, has its own power generators, allowing the farm to sell electricity back to the national grid while also producing the heat and Co2 that are beneficial to the plants.

The farm is expected to boost British salad-vegetable production by 15%, growing tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.

80 million Euros have been invested getting the site fully operational and is not only based on sound environmental logic but also on commercial plausibility. 

Not bad for a farm just outside of London.

Watch out for www.thanetearth.com

Babydoll makes an impact on the sustainability of wine production

Duncan Graham-Rowe’s article in The Guardian addresses what one particular winemaker in New Zealand has done to reduce his carbon emissions.

Firstly, just to put a winemakers carbon footprint into perspective, let the me outline the scale of the impact: Peter Yealand, a New Zealand winemaker owns a 1000 hectare vineyard. In order to keep the grass short between the vines, which is a necessity to prevent the grass from using precious nutrients and water and to hinder the spread of disease and fungus, Yealand would have to drive his tractor 3,500km 12 times a year to keep the grass short according to The Guardian. As a result diesel amounts to 60% of his energy costs.

The Guardian article outlines a number of experiments:  ‘To avoid using a tractor, last year he experimented by letting loose giant guinea pigs. That worked initially, he said. “But once the hawks had a taste for them they were sitting prey. We were losing them by the hour. Besides, we would have needed 11 million of them to make it work.”

But there is an alternative, ‘Now Yealands has turned his attention to babydolls, a rare breed of sheep which only reach about 60cm tall when fully grown. Because the grapes tend only to start growing from about 110cm off the ground the sheep can’t reach them. Yealands has tested 10 of the sheep on a 125-hectare patch of vines.’

‘By selectively breeding them with another more common sheep, the Merino Saxon, which is favoured for its meat, Yealands now hopes to get his stock up to the 10,000 he needs within the next five years. If successful, the flock should save him NZ$1.5m (£600,000) a year in diesel alone, and he hopes to sell the sheep for meat too.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/22/wine-animals

Ever heard of El-Nino (ENSO)? Foodservice needs to!

Posted in 1,Comment,Economics,Food Miles,Foodservice Footprint news,International,Logistics,News,Produce by foodservicefootprint on July 19, 2009

elnino

According to The Daily Telegraph business section, farmers across the southern hemisphere are preparing for El Nino Southern Oscillation, often shortened to ENSO. It involves a warming in the Pacific that sets off a chain of events that cause droughts in Australia and floods in South America. And it is likely that crops will fail.

Businesses all over the world, particularly those involved with food have to keep a very close eye on ENSO as it has the very realistic potential to substantially alter cost drivers. According to The Daily Telegraph, ‘Supply chains can be disrupted, input costs can soar and logistics for global operations become a nightmare’.

Rather than thinking that this is entirely man-made, it is not! Over the past two weeks meteorologists worldwide have been predicting just that.  A weather event that occurs once every three to seven years is under way and weather patterns across the southern hemisphere could be sent into turmoil over the next six months.

The last severe ENSO occured in 1997-1998. ‘In the late 1990’s drought conditions caused the failure of Australian wheat crops and sparked massive forest fires in Indonesia, which is responsible for about 30% of global vegetable oil production. The price of palm oil rocketed almost 300% and Africa also withered under prolonged drought…In California, the cost of fruit and vegetables jumped in 1997 – the price of strawberries doubled – as higher than normal moisture levels in the air and the ground caused crops to be attacked by fungi and other pests’.  Brazilian coffee jumped by 102% in the six months during the 1997 El Nino and the overall estimated impact of El Nino was estimated to be in the order of 25bn.

In all the debate about local sourcing one maybe forgets about the sensitivity of ecological equilibrium and the impact that a global agricultural imbalance can have on the British Foodservice and Retail industry. Most importantly it puts climate issues and global warming into perspective and perhaps offers a very real snippet of what we are dealing with!

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