Footprint Blog


Pig Business!

Posted in Comment,News,Provenance,Sustainability,Sustainable Sourcing by foodservicefootprint on January 31, 2010


Marchioness ‘Tracy’ of Worcester invited MP’s at Westminster to see her hard-hitting film Pig Business, which challenges the pork industry and campaigns for pig welfare, with the support of Zac Goldsmith, Tom Parker Bowles and actress Miranda Richardson.

Worcester told the Evening Standard ‘Until there is a mandatory country of origin and welfare label on pork, I believe we must ban the import of animals that are produced to a lower standard’.

Foodservice Footprint awaits eagerly to hear whether Pig Business has a similar impact to The End of The Line and makes a true measurable difference.

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.”

Fishermen’s Tales

Posted in Comment,Provenance,Sustainability,Sustainable Sourcing by foodservicefootprint on October 26, 2009
'But I caught them over there.....honest!'

'But I caught them over there.....honest!'

Not long after the launch of online seafood restaurant guide, fish2fork.com, Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons has gone public with its sustainable sourcing policy. Owner Raymond Blanc’s iconic restaurant has posted a full statement on its website about its fish purchasing policy and is updating its menus to give customers more information about its seafood dishes.

The new website www.fish2fork.com is the brainchild of the team behind the film The End of Line, which addresses the crisis of diminishing fish stocks in our oceans. The guide scores the country’s fish restaurants, not on their food and ambience, but according to the degree to which they are contributing to the destruction of the world’s ocean ecosystems by serving endangered fish.

Integral to the fish2fork team is End of the Line’s author, Charles Clover. Interviewed by Foodservice Footprint, he was asked if he felt the out of home sector was doing enough to support sustainable fishing – “Absolutely not. I think we all need to sharpen up, but we are at the bottom of a learning curve on what can be done. People who source their fish in Europe need to be aware that many fisheries they take their fish from would be regarded as disaster areas in America. Cod and herring on the west coast of Scotland, for example, cod in the North Sea, though there has been a small improvement, plaice just about everywhere. In the US there would be closed areas and fishing with much more selective gears. If European regulators won’t make these things happen, then it is going to be consumers and the big players in the food industry who have to make them happen.”

In the foodservice industry, buying sustainably is all about the credibility of the supply source and operators should beware economies with the truth when it comes to supplier statements. All is not as it seems. Fish2fork’s grading system is flushing out the good, the bad and the ugly. At the very least, it will make operators a little more forensic when it comes to assessing supply sources.

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

Provenance? Take your pick…

Posted in Comment,Food Miles,Provenance by foodservicefootprint on August 11, 2009

Which WayHaving just popped into the supermarket and picked up a pre-packed Flamegrilled Mini Chicken Breast pack which, needless to say, promised rather more than it delivered, I am bemused to read ‘Produce of the EU or Brazil..’ on the label!

I suppose I should be reassured by the addition of  ‘..cooked and packed in the UK for Tesco Stores Ltd.’ Surely in these provenance driven days they can be more accurate than that?! I suppose it’s marginally better than ‘Your guess is as good as mine’….

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

Organic food is no better for you says FSA report

Posted in Comment,Diet,Economics,Provenance by foodservicefootprint on July 29, 2009

organic hands

So organic food is no better for us than ‘ordinary food’. ‘Ordinary food’? To anybody over 60, organic food is ordinary food – it’s the homogenised fare offered by the supermarkets today that is different; it’s just become the norm.

But what of organic and the so called ‘organic movement’?  Does research such as this FSA commissioned document represent an early death knell? Possibly. ‘Organic’ has moved from a production method to an accreditation. When once it represented an ethos championing the production of food stuff to traditional methods, without the use of chemicals to stimulate, enhance or protect, today the word organic has become a retail category assuring the customer of a product’s production provenance. 

The organic movement has successfully drawn our attention to the fact that a lot of the food we eat today is produced in an arguably unnatural way and has made us want to know more about the provenance of our diet. This is excellent. But there is another side to this argument. To call your farm and your product organic, you have to be accredited by one of a number of organisations, the Soil Association being the most high profile. To achieve this accreditation means you have to undertake an audit and this audit costs money. Quite a lot of money. Rather more money than increasing numbers of cash strapped farmers will bear, and herein lies the story. 

Due to the demand for ‘high provenance’, naturally produced product, there are increasing numbers of farmers producing what is known as ‘uncertified organic’ ie that which is produced to organic methods without the expense of the accreditor’s fee, and finding ready markets throughout the country, not least in the burgeoning numbers of farm shops and farmers markets. 

Assuming that demand for this sort of product increases, might it be suggested that more and more farmers will begin to question the necessity of jumping through each year’s new set of accreditation goalposts, when they know they have a market for their products with or without an accreditation? And furthermore, does the paying public want organic or just comfort in the knowledge that they know where their food comes from?

The Forager: Extraordinarily Brilliant!

In this weeks Eco Hero column, Miles Irving talks about how he grew up foraging for wild food, encouraged by his grandfather. Irving has turned his hobby into a business selling his ‘forage’ to leading restaurants. www.forager.org.uk

Miles said ‘I tried setting up a foraging company a while ago when I had lots of chanterelles to get rid of, but no restaurants were interested. Then about three years later we happened to mention our wild food escapades in a restaurant in Canterbury and got pounced on by the chef’.  He really saw the potential. We now sell to J Sheekey, The Ivy, Scott’s, St John Bread and Wine and Le Caprice, amongst others.

Come on Chef’s, this is so exciting, why not try bittercress, chickweed, a lady’s smock and beefsteak fungus….

I think this is the most exciting thing since Olive Oil became something to cook with, rather than just a remedy for ear-ache! 

Please check out www.forager.org.uk

The Marine Stewardship Council receives Royal approval

Posted in 1,Comment,International,Provenance,Sustainability,Sustainable Sourcing by foodservicefootprint on July 18, 2009

The Prince of Wales hosted a reception for the Marine Stewardship Council at Clarence House on Tuesday. The organisation has been promoting sustainable fishing practices across the globe and has been responsible for a great deal of enlightenment in foodservice.

His Royal Highness compared the debate on fish resources with the failure to recognise the threat of climate change. The subject was ‘quite literally out of sight, out of mind’ he said.

Footprint is a great admirer of the MSC and is delighted that the Prince of Wales has managed to bring its work into the public’s consciousness.

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