Footprint Blog

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,, 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 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.

Farmed fish counts for half of fish consumed in the world!

Posted in Comment,Food Trends,Foodservice Footprint news,International,News,Sustainability,Sustainable Sourcing by foodservicefootprint on September 27, 2009

According to a Stanford University study, half of fish consumed around the world is now farmed!

Farm fish production has almost trebled between 1995 and 2007, driven by a massive rise in consumer demand for Omega – 3 fatty acids.

In order to enhance the growth and flavour of farmed fish, fish farms use large quantities of fishmeal and fish oil made from less valuable wild caught species.

This, however is putting a strain on the marine system. In 2006, 20 million metric tons of wild fish were caught to produce fishmeal. It is suggested that it takes 5 pounds of wild fish to produce 1 pound of salmon.

All we hope is that foodservice’s growing enlightenment is having and effect in leveraging the growth of farmed fish driven by domestic demand.

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 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

Sushi: Perhaps Nobu could follow itsu’s example

Posted in Comment,Food Trends,Foodservice Footprint news,International,News,Sustainability,Sustainable Sourcing by foodservicefootprint on September 19, 2009

itsu has taken the step to publish an A6 post card, available at all outlets and included in all deliveries, that makes the company’s policy on Bluefin tuna plainly transparent. The card states:

“The bluefin tuna is a wild, noble creature, in danger of extinction.

Don’t buy it. Don’t eat it. Tell your friends and family likewise.

Technological investment in freezer ships, satellites and sonar enable greedy corporations to remain at sea culling this migratory fish for months at a time. A catastrophe will be avoided with the introduction of realistic quotas

Currently less than 1% of the world’s oceans are protected.

itsu sources only Yellowfin tuna, never Bluefin. The fish we buy are caught by deep water set lines. This method of fishing avoids the horror of ‘bycatch’.

‘Bycatch’ goes hand in hand with drift net fishing, unselective longlining and, worst of all, purse seine nets.

Big fish, small fish, dolphins, turtles…you name it….’bycatch’ is too expensive and inconvenient to sort so it’s destroyed and dumped.

In a similar vein itsu only sells free range chicken. Again, a sensible way forward.”

Caviar: A wonderful tale of stock replenishment

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

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.

Some Water Facts!

Posted in Comment,Diet,Food Miles,Food Trends,International,Sustainability,Sustainable Sourcing by foodservicefootprint on September 13, 2009


Last week, the subject of water was raised with us repeatedly in light of the ever-increasing anti-bottled-water momentum.

Here are a few lesser known facts about fresh water, that might serve as a fundament to understanding the ambiguity of this issue:

97% of the worlds water is in the ocean. Of the 3% of fresh water, three quarters of it is locked in the polar ice caps, some of it billions of years old. Most of the rest of groundwater, in the soil and rock, seeping gradually back into the sea.

Less than 1% of the world’s freshwater (0.008% of the total) is sufficient to fill all the world’s rain clouds, lakes, swamps and rivers.

There is a clear link between access to safe water in a country and its GDP.

It is estimated that by 2025 more than half of the world will be facing problems caused by lack of water

More than a quarter of the British water supply is wasted through leaky pipes.

There is half as much fresh water in Africa today as there was in 1970.

70% of available fresh water each year is used in agriculture.

It takes 2,800 litres of water to grow a kg of rice and 50 glasses of water to grow enough oranges to make a glass of orange juice.

Perhaps the bottled water sceptics might consider some of these points when they next drink a glass of orange juice. We clearly have a global water problem that needs to be addressed but can the blame for this be laid at the door of the mineral and spring water industry?

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


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!

Fifteen commits to MSC

Posted in Foodservice Footprint news,Sustainability,Sustainable Sourcing by foodservicefootprint on September 2, 2009

The global restaurant brand and social enterprise, Fifteen and the Marine Stewardship Council  (MSC) have received a grant to have all four Fifteen restaurants certified to sell MSC ecolabelled fish. The grant, from the Dutch Stichting Doen Foundation will also fund a training project which will see Fifteen’s chefs join with the MSC to create training and promotional support to the food service industry on certification and its benefits [1].

Once the certification is in place, all four restaurants will be making a commitment to put MSC fish on the menu regularly, and at least once a month. In the UK the range of MSC fish choices varies from mackerel to langoustines and availability is improving all the time.

The certification is hugely important to Fifteen as the sourcing of quality ingredients is an important part of the Fifteen philosophy. The restaurants’ apprentice chefs will also learn about MSC certification as part of their 12-month training programme, helping to educate some of the next generation of chefs.

Fish carrying the MSC eco label can be traced back to the independently certified fishery that caught them.  This means that the fishery has been through the world’s most highly regarded assessment process, which uses the most up to date scientific methods and best independent experts available to assess them and is therefore a standard bearer for traceability and sustainability.

The MSC’s fishery certification programme recognises and rewards sustainable fishing by creating market demand for MSC eco-labelled seafood, encouraging people to look for the MSC logo on seafood in shops and restaurants. 

Laura Stewart, Foodservice Manager for the MSC commented:  “We’re delighted to be working with Fifteen. The combination of funding from Stichting Doen and the Fifteen Foundation’s expertise and experience will mean we can produce some fantastic materials for training chefs together. With Fifteen’s additional commitment to training the next generation of chefs, we hope to make an even greater impact on the food service industry in the future.”

Executive Head Chef Andrew Parkinson says: “At Fifteen we’re passionate about using the best possible ingredients, and wherever possible ingredients that are sourced in a sustainable way. This year UK consumers have been made even more aware of the issues around our supply of fish and we are pleased to be able to show our commitment to sustainable fishing with our partnership with the MSC.”

Fifteen’s flagship restaurant in London aims to kick start promotion of MSC in the UK in September followed by Cornwall in October. It will also be involved in the MSC’s Sustainable Seafood Lunch on 30th September.

To Green or Not to Green…

Posted in Comment,Credit Crunch,Economics,Sustainability by foodservicefootprint on September 2, 2009

Green Scales

Footprint met up last week with Mark Lovett, who handles the sustainability portfolio at public sector frozen food supplier, apetito. The discussion was business attitudes to maintaining sustainable initiatives in an economic downturn. 

Footprint’s view is that although money is tight, organisations need to maintain and develop their environmental strategies because, as night follows day, it is this single most important issue that will drive business decision making over the coming years.

Although the UK is burdened by unprecedented national debt, green shoots are emerging and foodservice businesses need to be in a position to hit the ground running when things really start moving. To be at the front of the queue for new business, companies will need to be able to demonstrate a sound track record in sustainable business activity. Mark agrees.

“Ten years ago, implementing sustainable business measures was a ‘nice to do’”, he says, “something that sometimes provided competitive advantage in a public sector tender, depending on who you were talking to.  However, just a decade later it’s a ‘must’ in order to win and retain business. Every strategic decision a company makes must be considered from a sustainability point of view – and how that impacts on the business, customers and wider stakeholders.

So despite being in a recession, green can’t go out of fashion.  Companies need to continue to invest to stay competitive and to be in a strong position post-recession.”

There will come a point, however, when everyone within the sector is committed to good sustainable practice, so how does a business stand out from the crowd and take competitive advantage, we asked. 

“Critical to success is ensuring that initiatives have clear features and benefits to both the business and its customers and that they do not get lost in general sustainability chatter.   For example, apetito has been working to reduce the amount of cardboard used in the delivery of its meals.  We have reduced our cardboard box requirement by 1m cartons a year, which means saving £95k a year in costs, avoiding perhaps 100 tonnes of carbon emissions in production of that card and through our returnable crate system saving the customer time and effort.  Just this one project demonstrates clear benefits to all parties.

We have also now diverted all of our factory food waste away from landfill with waste now being disposed of by an anaerobic digestion process where the waste generates electricity and creates as a final product a soil improving compost material – another initiative that has clear environmental as well as business benefits. 

Looking after the environment is rightly very much part of the public sector agenda and to avoid it or cost-cut will be to the detriment of any business.”

You have been warned!

« Previous PageNext Page »