Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Sustainability in the UK Foodservice Operators' Industry 2011–2012 Market Trends and Opportunities, Forecast of Budgets and Profitability, Foodservice Operators' Procurement and Marketing Initiatives

London, April 25, 2012 – Different companies perceive sustainability in different ways. However, organizations need to understand the most-important initiatives that are required for a company to be labelled as sustainable in the foodservice industry. To understand how the foodservice industry perceives sustainability, the respondents were asked to identify the statements which best defines sustainability to their organization. A total of 69% of respondents from profit sector organizations perceive ‘responding to customer demand for sustainable products and services’ to be an important sustainability initiative, while 73% of respondents from cost sector foodservice operators perceive ‘increasing levels of local sourcing of ingredients and other supplies’ to be an important sustainability initiative (reference see figure 1 below).

Sustainability is emerging as an important business practice in the foodservice industry. In addition to the social and environmental benefits of a company adopting sustainable practices, these practices tend to bring cost savings to a company, which provides a financial incentive for companies to adopt these measures.

On average, foodservice operators in the profit sector expect to save 7% of their organisational expenditure through the adoption of sustainable practices, while foodservice operators in the cost sector expect to save 8%. Given the size of some foodservice operators’ organisational expenditure, these savings could be considerable. Furthermore, consumer demand for environmentally friendly food products is growing, which has provided a large incentive for foodservice operators to adopt sustainable practices.

Fairtrade certification ensures that people who grow and produce food are ethically treated. Due to this certification’s growing popularity, many operators now consider it as an important requirement, especially since the certification increases their social responsibility scores. For example, Sodexo, a major foodservice operator has committed to significantly increasing its share of products which are procured from fairtrade-certified sources. The company presently procures 174 ethically-sourced products which are certified by the Rainforest Alliance or with Fairtrade certification.

Companies expect to procure sustainable products only when they are certified or have third-party endorsements. This helps companies to market their products with higher credibility. For example, Pret A Manger procures chicken of High Welfare Standard, pork from British Farm Assures, and a specific variety of fish from British Retail Consortium accredited factories in China. The operator also uses free-range eggs and free-range cattle.

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