A focus on sustainability doesn’t have to hurt when sizeable savings can be made, say firms
THERE are few issues more prevalent in the public consciousness now than the environment and our impact on it.
What was once called a trend is now here to stay as more and more operators begin to see the benefits of making their venues greener.
And the process doesn’t have to be difficult as there are straightforward steps that can be taken in food-led outlets to be more environmentally friendly, whether it’s by reducing energy usage or using sustainable and local produce in menus.
For instance, when businesses use less energy they not only cut their utility bills but also the harmful fumes released by power plants into the atmosphere.
Shaune Hall, product development chef at Falcon Foodservice, reckons choosing the correct catering equipment for commercial kitchens is central to being as green possible.
He said: “Sustainability and energy efficiency must be more than buzz words in the catering industry.
“Caterers should be making continual efforts to reduce their energy use by sourcing energy efficient kit.
“When replacing kitchen equipment, energy savings can be made simply by purchasing modern equipment, as it is generally more energy efficient than older models.”
John Whitehouse, chair of the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA), echoed that view.
“In terms of the equipment, manufacturers’ product ranges across the board are significantly more efficient now than they were, say, ten years ago,” he said.
“This means running costs are being cut, dramatically in many cases.
“Analysis by The Carbon Trust shows that 82% of a catering appliance’s life cycle cost is down to the energy used in its operation; 3% is maintenance; and only 15% is the initial purchase.
“This should be incentive enough; it’s economic short-sightedness not to specify energy saving equipment.”
And this extends to warewashing too, according to Paul Crowley, marketing manager at Winterhalter.
He said: “Dishwashers are big users of resources – energy, water and chemicals – so in order to save resources it is essential to look at the warewashing operation in the kitchen.
“It’s not the initial cost that operators should focus on; instead they should look at the lifetime cost. This will ultimately save businesses the most energy in the kitchen.”
When looking to maximise energy savings in a business, it is worth remembering that savings will only be delivered if equipment is used in line with the manufacturer’s instructions, stated Donald Reid, sales manager at Bonnybridge-based Moffat Catering Equipment.
He said: “Turning on an appliance before necessary, leaving doors open, setting incorrect temperatures, overloading the appliance, can all negate energy performance.”
Away from the equipment and looking at what goes onto plates in bars and restaurants, a menu with green credentials can prove popular.
To achieve this it is necessary to incorporate more local and sustainable produce in food offers, suppliers told SLTN.
Richard Jones, commercial director – out of home at McCain Foodservice, said: “By using products that are 100% British in their dishes, licensees can rest assured that their stock is not only of the best quality, but also has a lower carbon footprint than most imported foods, making it more environmentally friendly.”
And a focus on provenance and sustainability should be used to create a selling point in food-led outlets when it comes to seafood, added Brian Hall, managing director of Direct Seafoods.
“Use menus and specials boards to tell customers where and when it was caught,” he said.
“Highlight the sustainable seafood credentials of your business on your menus, websites and on social media. This is particularly important when there is national media coverage or campaigns around these issues.
“And make sure all chefs and front of house staff know about the sustainable seafood you use on your menu so they can answer customer questions.”
Zero Waste Scotland’s spokesperson for food and drink, Sue Roberts, also stressed how important it is that outlets communicate their sustainability practices.
She said: “For bars, it would make sense to do this using the channels they normally use to communicate with customers.
“This may be through social media or in the bar itself.
“It’s important for staff to be up to speed on the merits of new sustainability-themed products so they are able to discuss it with the customers.”
Sustainable top tips
1. Break sustainability down into bitesize chunks to avoid the potential for feeling overwhelmed at the task.
2. Step back and review where your business is at on those key issues.
3. Identify some short-term wins and medium and longer term goals as part of your strategy.
4. Engage staff in the process. From recycling and energy efficiency to menu planning, they’ll appreciate the chance and rise to the challenge.
5. Sit down with suppliers and discuss how they can help you meet your goals.