Which would you choose: a voluntary initiative with you all working together to achieve change; or tighter regulation that forces change? Its a tough call. This Government has certainly nailed its (two) colours to the voluntary mast. And the Responsibility Deal is a case a point.
The RD has been established to tap into the potential for businesses (and other organisations) to improve public health; businesses commit to a variety of pledges (theres no limit as to how many or few) covering everything from salt reductions and healthier staff restaurants to calorie labelling on menus. So far, 170 have joined in. It seems a lot, but then consider the size of the UK food and drink industry…
Foodservice companies are, largely, conspicuous by their absence. I have a theory for this. Generally, its the biggest companies that have been the early adopters your PepsiCos and Tescos. Representing foodservice at the moment are the big boys too, including Compass and Sodexo. On page 31, Sodexos Phil Hooper argues that his company, and its competitors, have an added responsibility: to pull the rest of the sector along with them on the Governments journey to a healthier nation. That pull will help, but there also needs to be a push.
Theres no arguing that foodservice is a disparate sector. But disparity cant be an excuse for disengagement. Everyone in this sector has a responsibility to take action – whatever their size. If this deal doesnt work, the Government says regulation will come thick and fast.
And there are other areas where we risk the regulators wrath. Packaging, for instance, is ripe for taxation as we discuss on page 24. Were lagging behind retail, and there is little evidence of industry-wide cooperation in foodservice to cut waste and enjoy the cost benefits that come with it. Thats why we are proposing a roundtable on packaging as soon as possible to produce some collective actions. The rich mosaic of companies involved in foodservice makes collective action tricky, but not impossible. We need to pull together, or risk regulation tearing us apart.
Youll hopefully notice the magazine is undergoing a few nip and tuck changes. Weve introduced a Health & Wellbeing section an obvious move given how closely aligned the issues are with sustainability. Were also attracting top journalists, commentators and industry names to write for us as we look to analyse the most important topics for the sector. But dont forget this magazine is for you, so do get in touch with your thoughts, stories and observations. In the next issue there will be a letters page too all the more reason to have your say.