A Food Made Good Success Story: Young’s
Young’s pubs and pubs with rooms have been part of the hospitality scene in London and South England since 1831. In 2023, they completed the Food Made Good Standard, earning three stars for their exceptional work when it comes to sustainability. We spoke to Aimee McDonald, Sustainability Manager, about their experience of taking the Standard and what it has brought to this 200-year-old company.
Why sustainability matters at Young’s
With Young’s 200th birthday fast approaching, the team knew they needed an active focus on building a sustainable future, aiming to ensure the restaurant will be around for another 200 years. “The world has changed a lot since Young’s poured their first pint,” says Sustainability Manager Aimee McDonald, “but we’re now at a critical point in time. If we don’t take a stand against climate change, it’s not only the future of Young’s that will be deeply impacted, but that of the planet, too.”
Breaking it down
The team understands that sustainability is both vast and complex in nature, so they actively break it down into manageable, bite-sized chunks – a process that is happily matched by the framework of the Food Made Good Standard. “This allows us to understand specific points and the effect each one has on the business and the environment,” explains Aimee. Working in this way, they can identify causes and solutions and begin to make impactful changes.
One of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the increasing rate of change and the growing urgency around sustainable practices. “With the race to net zero becoming ever more crucial and world surface temperatures likely to breach 1.5*C by 2027,” says Aimee, “we all need to work harder and faster to meet our targets.” Working sustainably at Young’s has become a core part of the company’s values, something that is reflected in our procedures across the business.
Starting the Food Made Good Standard
Aimee tells us the team was pleasantly surprised by the Standard’s attention to detail. “The rating covers all aspects of the business and examines our approach and methodology, thus giving us a clear insight into our achievements but also areas in which we can improve.”
She is quick to recommend the Standard to other businesses who may be considering signing up. “No matter where you are on your sustainability journey, the FMG standard is a great tool for learning and development,” she says. Aimee notes that the process gives hospitality operators a 360-degree look at their business, helps teams to focus on the areas of improvement and celebrates successes. She was impressed with the support on offer, too: “The SRA team offers great support and is on hand throughout the whole process to give assistance and guidance where needed.”
The Food Made Good Standard helped provide a deep dive into the Young’s business. “The Standard was great for highlighting areas where we have made exceptional progress which would have been otherwise overlooked, but also showed us areas where we could develop and improve.”
Aimee feels strongly that the Food Made Good Standard was the best way for Young’s to clearly communicate about the hard work they were putting in. “The Standard provided us a platform to be transparent about our sustainable journey, shout about what we’re doing well and learn from some of the best in the industry.” Completing the Standard also offers a high degree of credibility, something greatly appreciated at Young’s. “As a highly recognised global Standard, this provides assurance to both our internal teams and our customers that we are on the right track working towards a more sustainable future,” says Aimee. “It also acknowledges all the hard work and dedication that Young’s puts in to achieving our sustainability goals.”
Taking pride in hard work
The team at Young’s prides itself on being able to provide the best British, seasonal and local produce. “This has been a priority throughout the years,” says Aimee. “Our sourcing practices help to support local suppliers who can deliver an abundance of freshly sourced ingredients to our growing customer portfolio.”
Young’s pubs also sit happily at the hearts of their local communities. “We take great joy fulfilling our role as key community hubs,” Aimee says. This might mean combating loneliness through ‘Meet up Mondays’ at the Alexandra in Wimbledon, organising weddings or simply offering a place where locals can come together to enjoy the rugby. “Pubs are an integral part of British life, and we know we have the power to unite people and communities and to make memories.”
This year, the business has also partnered with Wooden Spoon, the children’s rugby charity. As part of this involvement, the company will fundraise for initiatives such as assistance dogs for the blind, purchasing wheelchairs for local clubs to make rugby more accessible, Maddy’s Mark (positive mental health for women through rugby), School of Hard Knocks (getting people back on their feet through sport) and Pass the Plate (a food bank initiative). “We will take advantage of the opportunities supplied by Wooden Spoon to host events with key players and commentators and get our teams involved in volunteering opportunities,” she says. “We have pledged to raise over £150,000 for the charity during FY24.”
Next steps for Young’s
Young’s have done fantastic work to date, but their sustainability journey is far from over. Aimee tells us that they have now started a gas conversion project, whereby they are actively reducing their consumption of gas by converting to electric kitchens wherever feasible across our estate. This is part of a long-term plan to achieve net zero in Scopes 1 and 2 by 2030. With an ongoing commitment to improvement, we have no doubts that Young’s will far outlive that 200th birthday.
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