Food Made Good for our Future: A Call to Action
We – humanity, the would-be custodians of our planet – are at an event horizon when it comes to the climate crisis. The decisions we make at this moment in time will make or break our future. This is a call to action for hospitality businesses to step up and make real, tangible change.
In March this year, the IPCC released a landmark study that made it impossible to deny the sheer magnitude of the environmental crisis. Dubbed “the report of reports,” the Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report provides a bleak inventory of the damage done to date and still to come. With temperatures already at 1.1˚C above pre-industrial levels, every part of the world is experiencing the consequences: increasingly extreme weather events, rising sea levels, flooding, fires, droughts, famine, eroded soils, biodiversity loss, severely reduced fish stocks and terrifying declines in the populations of pollinating insects. The brutal impact of this is, of course, felt disproportionately by the most vulnerable ecosystems and communities among us.
If we stand any chance of meeting our climate targets, then immediate, radical and sustained change is needed across all sectors, within this decade. If you’re a decision-maker in the hospitality industry, consider this your call to action.
A call to action for hospitality businesses
Many people are unaware of the enormous environmental impact of the hospitality industry. However:
The food and beverage industries behind the global food system are directly responsible for 30% of climate change, 60% of biodiversity loss, 60% of land conversion, 70% of nutrient overloading and more than 50% of the eutrophication of water.
UNEP’s 2021 Food Waste Index estimates 931 million tonnes of food is wasted every year – and a huge 26% of this is coming from foodservice businesses.
The hospitality industry needs to cut emissions by 66% by 2030, and 90% by 2050 (compared to 2010 levels) to ensure that the growth forecast for the industry does not mean a growth in carbon emissions.The industry will need to do even more to limit warming to 1.5oC.
While the use of single-use plastics is being tackled in some parts of the world, it remains a problem in many, and food and beverage businesses are amongst the biggest culprits. The restaurant industry generates over 11 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, primarily in the form of single-use items.
Food and beverage businesses typically use a lot of water in their daily operations, predominantly in the kitchen – but that’s far from the whole picture. Food production demands an enormous volume of water, with the worst culprits being animal-based products.
Furthermore, as the recent Eating for Net Zero report from The WWF underlined, diets are not just a matter of personal preference, but are in fact heavily influenced by the food environment around us. Consumer food choices are swayed by “what is available, affordable and accessible, and how it is marketed,” placing a considerable responsibility squarely at the doorsteps of governments, policy-makers and industry.
With people eating out in record numbers worldwide, our menus need a serious rethink. We will not meet our climate targets without changing how we eat, and this will not happen if we expect individuals alone to make the change.
Food for thought
There is still a window in which we can turn this around, but it’s clear that the hospitality industry, amongst others, has a vital role to play in doing so. We can help to fix the food system and ensure that good food – good on every level – is available and accessible for everyone. We have the power to change how the customer thinks about food and, ultimately, orders and eats.
So what, exactly, does sustainability mean for this industry? This question has formed the basis for developing our new and improved FMG Standard. We believe a holistic approach is crucial, bringing together three key pillars:
- Sourcing (cultivating a clean supply chain; high-welfare, sustainable sourcing of meat and fish; fair compensation for producers; prioritising provenance and incorporating more plant foods)
- Social (treating employees, suppliers, customers and communities with respect, fairness and care)
- Environment (reductions in carbon, energy and water footprints, minimising waste overall and making food waste a thing of the past)
Making the commitment to change also requires openness and honesty. Greenwashing isn’t cutting it with consumers any longer; customers are highly aware of a gap between stated goals and implementation, and that customer satisfaction levels drop considerably where this sort of hypocrisy is perceived. Businesses are best advised to be as transparent as possible about where they are on their journey; this is a complex process, and nobody is getting every part of it right from the get-go. All that any of us can do is to commit to consistent and measurable improvement: to be better today than we were yesterday, and to work towards being even better tomorrow.
We don’t have time for perfectionism. Across the industry, around the globe, we need concrete and transparent action, and we need it now.
And rest assured – we see you. We’re in conversation with hospitality operators every day, and we know there are rocks in your path: the staffing issues, the resonating impact of the pandemic, the sourcing problems, the rising costs of literally everything. We’re here to support you on this journey – and to reassure you that making a commitment to sustainability has the power to ease many of these pressure points, from improved recruitment and marketing capabilities through to reductions in your operating costs.
Will you join us on our mission and help make the hospitality industry a sustainable space?
How can hospitality businesses take the first step towards sustainability?
How can I make my business more sustainable? Where do I begin on my sustainability journey? What is the most important area to focus on? We hear variations on these questions all the time, and we believe our Food Made Good Standard is the best place to start.
The new, improved and globally available Food Made Good Standard is the most recognised sustainability accreditation for the hospitality industry worldwide, and is a valuable first step on your journey.
We’ve been busy reworking our Food Made Good Standard to make it as relevant as possible to today’s hospitality industry – wherever you are in the world – and to present it through a new, more user-friendly platform. This Standard takes a holistic look at what it means to be sustainable and highlights areas for improvement. As the most recognised sustainability accreditation for the food and beverage industry worldwide, successfully completing it also provides an invaluable marketing tool for your business.
Step up. Make the commitment. We’re running out of time.
Not quite ready to take the Standard, but eager to start implementing sustainable practices into your business? Or do you just want a quick litmus test to see where you currently stand? Take our free Food For Thought quiz, an easy 50-point questionnaire that will help you identify the areas where you need the most work.
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