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The Caterer

Time to take sustainability more seriously

12 July 2007
Time to take sustainability more seriously

A call to all restaurateurs, from Mark Derry, chief executive of seafood chain Loch Fyne, to follow the lead set by the major supermarket groups

Hardly a week goes by without one of the big supermarkets announcing an initiative to show off their environmental credentials. In the last few weeks Tesco has launched a campaign supporting local milk to reduce food miles, Sainsbury's has announced that all its crisps will be made from British potatoes, and Waitrose has piloted the removal of carrier bags from several of its stores.

The size of the supermarket chains and their procurement power makes them more obvious targets in the environmental debate than restaurants. Yet we too should take responsibility for our environmental impact, especially our supply chains, farming methods and waste.

The restaurant sector - with a few exceptions - has been slow to react to environmental issues affecting food supply. It's easy to see why: most customers eat out to enjoy themselves, not to flaunt their social credentials.

Seafood is the central offering of Loch Fyne restaurants, so it may seem fairly obvious that we should have a strong commitment to environmental sustainability. The world's oceans are overfished, so sustainable fishing methods are vital for our commercial survival. However, this ought to be true of any restaurant: who would want to serve the last cod or take fish off the menu completely?

Since Loch Fyne's inception we've paid meticulous attention to our supply chain, with a tight ethical purchasing code, actively supporting small suppliers who share our passion for sustainable seafood and seeking out lower-impact methods for sourcing fish, such as farming.

Our approach is not without its difficulties and we're not perfect. Recycling is also an issue: some local councils charge huge fees to collect glass, or don't collect it at all, meaning not all of our sites can recycle.

However, we shouldn't let small stumbling blocks put us off. We won't wait for our customers to demand better environmental credentials. We, and others like us, must take the initiative and the responsibility for the impact of our business.

The world's oceans are overfished, so sustainable fishing methods are vital for our commercial survival

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