AUTHOR: TOM TANNER

When at the end of HRC 2019 the organisers asked the 21,000 delegates for their top priority for 2020, sustainability topped the list. Judging by the numbers who attended Sustainable Hospitality 2020: Food Made Good with the SRA, and the buzz of questions, networking conversations and engagement with the interactive sessions, interest is certainly showing no sign of waning.

The day was designed to give visitors to the conference, whatever their current status on the road to sustainability, the opportunity to dip into the solutions-focused sessions that struck the biggest chord for them, or go for full immersion and soak up the whole day of advice, information and inspiring stories from their industry colleagues.

We’ll be creating and sharing fuller content about all the sessions shortly but, for those unable to attend yesterday, here’s a whistlestop run through of what you missed:

Who better to set the tone of the day and inspire the packed house to channel the spirit of David Attenborough and Great Thunberg than our President, Raymond Blanc OBE, challenging everyone in the industry to start act now. “We all know everything needs to change and it has to start today.” He called on everyone to use the conference as a launchpad for action. “Food is a big contributor to climate change, but it’s also an essential part of the solution. It’s in our hands.”

 

 

 

Sustainability 101

Membership Manager Hannah Dean-Wood and Cameron McDonald, Community Manager, gave an introduction to sustainability in foodservice as defined by the SRA – providing tips on how to excel in all the ten key sustainability areas that make up our framework. These included increasing visits to suppliers to make the most of local food, following the lead of The Roebuck in creating a reduced meat burger to help serve more veg and better meat and measuring and monitoring to help Reduce Reuse and Recycle and to Waste No Food.

Creating a Planet Friendly Food Offer (Delivered in partnership with World Resources Institute)

With an ever-increasing recognition of food as a major contributor to climate change, this session was designed for chefs and menu planners keen to take carbon, not flavour off the menu. Five Ps are the answer:

People

Product

Placement

Presentation and

Promotion

Three top tips for three very different restaurants:

  1. High-end restaurant: charge the same amount as meat dishes & talk about veg provenance
  2. Town hotel: make veg the norm on the breakfast menu and meat an extra
  3. Fast food chain: normalize vegan option

Profit from Giving your People a Purpose

Treating People Fairly has always been one the key areas of our framework. With the skills shortage, immigration restrictions post-Brexit and a growing recognition of mental health issues in the industry (80% of chefs say they’ve suffered poor mental health), there’s never been a better time to ensure you’re workplace is somewhere people want to come to every day. Follow the lead of YO!, winners of the Treat People Fairly category at the Food Made Good Awards 2019, reducing staff absences by 40% and turnover by 9% with the introduction of Mental Health First Aiders and you could crack recruitment and retention said panel host, Ylva Johannesson, SRA Head of Membership.

Three key takeaways:

Make meaningful promises

Madeleine Geech, Hawksmoor Head of Culture, said one of the company’s five promises to all staff is that they will have a good boss, and this commits them to investing in their managers, adding that you have to honour your promises.

Invest in chefs

Doug Sanham, founder of Pilot Light, cautioned employers to think twice before hiring a temporary chef. With 19,000 chefs moving job last year it’s up to the industry to do more to make them want to stay where they are. A temporary chef’s £48,000 salary could be disruptive and in fact pay for two good junior chefs.

Ask employees what’s important to them

Sandy Jarvis from The Culpeper said asking your team what they want is the best place to start. A recent poll of their team found mental health was the most pressing issue.

Plastics – Going Beyond Straws & Stirrers

Judging by the hordes that packed into the room for this one, there’s a massive industry desire to get drastic with plastic.

Our hand-picked experts and industry insiders from Belu, University of Sheffield, BPR Group, BuJo and FoodSpace took the solutions hungry audience on a whirlwind tour of the merits and de-merits of plastic, glass, cups and cans.

Three takeaway messages:

  1. When considering the full life cycle, water use and Co2 emissions are lower for reusable glass bottles than their plastic counterparts – Christian Reynolds, University of Sheffield
  2. Engage your customers in the move to more responsible packaging like getting them to switch to a reusable cup – Conor Spacey, FoodSpace
  3. Change your mindset on waste – think of it as a resource, Karen Lynch, Belu

Advice Bar

How do I reduce the sugar content of my dairy products?

How can we reduce packaging in the schools we cater for while meeting essential practicalities and when price is at a premium?

How can we find a second life for our used staff uniforms?

How can we connect our food redistribution service with more restaurants?

How can we inspire our chefs to integrate more sustainable seafood into our menus?

These are just a smattering of the questions fielded by our geniuses, from MCS, BPR Group, Belu and WRAP gathered for our FREE one hour SRA Advice Bar – and represent a fraction of the enquiries we field every day either in person or via the Food Made Good online community platform – accessible to all our members.

Food Waste 101 and Workshop: Keep Calm and Tackle Food Waste

The afternoon session of the conference was devoted to raising awareness of the economic, social and environmental reasons for fighting food waste in your business, as well as providing the tools and inspiration to do it.

Our partners for the session, WRAP, spelt out the case in four key stats:

  • A third of all food is wasted
  • One in nine people globally go hungry
  • Food waste accounts for 8% of all GhGs – four times greater than aviation – yes really!
  • Food waste costs the industry £3.2 billion a year while every pound invested in a reduction scheme returns £7.

WRAP’s Huw Morris challenged all: “If you’re not signed up to our Target Measure Act programme yet, why not?”, countering all the arguments for not doing so like lack of time, money or space.

Three quarters of the 1.1m tonnes of food wasted in foodservice in 2018 was avoidable, said WRAP’s Eleanor Morris, so with mandatory food waste reporting on its way now’s the time to get ahead of the game. We should as an industry be feeding people not bins.

Key tip:

Appoint an in-house food waste champion.

Hannah Dean-Wood invited applications for the next Food Waste Bad Taste cohort, highlighting the programme’s simple to follow, structured, step-by-step approach to driving down food waste. The free programme offers three reports, granular detail and expert advice.

Greene King’s Supply Chain Director, Vance Fairman Smith, shared the pub operator’s success.

He shared their motivation:

  • The cost of food waste collections vs regular bins
  • Customers seeing them do the right thing

Their challenges:

  • Maintaining change in a fast turnover industry with team speaking multiples languages
  • Kitchen layout

Successes:

  • 28% reduction in food waste
  • Partnering with Too Good To Go
  • Getting the food development team involved in the process
  • Involving customers

Plans for further reduction in 2020 and beyond

To use technology to drive customer choice and helping customers make choices that create less waste.

The afternoon session offered three 15-minute workshops tackling the What, How and Who of food waste reduction.

What do you need?

Top Tips:

  • Work out a colour-coding system that works for you
  • Take bones out of the food waste bin
  • Don’t contaminate food waste with extraneous items like blue roll

How to reduce?

Top Tips

  • Review the items you’re wasting most – use till data to help you
  • Challenge your chefs to come up with a solution and celebrate those successes
  • Identify the key people at other stages of the process – porters and menu developers

Who should be involved?

  • Run trials and then get buy-in to share across the business
  • Reimagine waste as a new revenue stream – by working with apps like Too Good To Go
  • Include food waste reduction in everyone’s job description because it is everyone’s business

Check back on these pages soon for more top insights, tips, support and information to help you ensure your foodservice business is fighting fit for the future.