Industry expert: Sports report

Jon Davies, managing director of Levy UK and Ireland, updates us on a busy time for the sports and leisure sector...

As caterers rebuild following the pandemic, they must not ignore the fundamental ethical principles around planetary health, environmental welfare and sustainability that have driven – and will continue to drive – their operational success. Nowhere was this message clearer than at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, at the SEC Centre in Glasgow this past month.

Following the numerous discussions surrounding sustainability conducted at the conference, it is evident that paving the way for planet-friendly choices will continue to set the agenda moving forward. The conference’s food strategy, which we devised and implemented through SEC Food, a partnership with Glasgow SEC, set a clear example as to how to promote sustainability while also providing a diverse and delicious menu.

Sales of vegetarian and plant-based dishes took centre stage, accounting for 60% of retail sales from a total of over 125,000 menu items sold during COP26. This was largely achieved by serving local produce, with 80% of the food being from Scotland and a further 15% from within the UK.

The majority of suppliers were based within 100 miles of Glasgow, allowing for partnerships with quality brands such as Edinburgh’s Mara Seaweed, Stoats and Barra Berries, all which helped us deliver a low-carbon menu. In order to help attendees understand the menu’s carbon footprint and make an informed choice, Levy partnered with Norwegian start-up and environmental consultants Klimato, to calculate and share the carbon footprint of each dish via an eco-label. 

As we all take steps to protect our planet, our sustainable food strategy and plant-forward approach, exemplified at COP26, will shape menus of the future. The conference, and the impact it has had on the national conversation around sustainable food, will be used as a catalyst for change to drive our Levy Climate promise to be Net Zero by 2027.

While, of course, Covid-19 has brought significant challenges to the hospitality industry, it has also provided us with an opportunity to take another look at how we can lead by example, drive new initiatives in the delivery of our services, and to be the change we want to see in the broader hospitality industry. We need to recognise our role in promoting more sustainable food choices to guests. We have a responsibility to do more for the planet, but with the industry now rebuilding post-Covid, there is a real danger that venues will abandon their sustainability goals in favour of profits, when they should in fact be recommitting to them.

As the industry’s market leader, Levy will continue to champion a range of issues. These will include consolidating menus around a greater proportion of local produce and plant-forward meals, reducing food waste, and trying to drive up food safety and welfare standards using the power of our supply chain.

As a food business, our intent is clear: we must lead the way in doing more to reduce our carbon impact. The food industry must take a longer-term view of where it would like to be – for the sake of our guests and our planet, now and in the future.

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