CH&Co HAS become the first British catering group to receive certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) demonstrating its commitment to sustainable sourcing of fish. No other British catering group has managed to achieve certification across its entire business network, until now.
The MSC certification is a significant achievement for the CH&Co business given the diversity of its offering, which ranges from day visitor catering for venues such as ZSL London Zoo, fine dining, high end event hospitality and traditional Livery company dining to high volume workplace meals. The business units which now carry the MSC certification are Charlton House, Lusso, Chester Boyd, ITA and Ampersand.
In order to obtain MSC certification, CH&Co had to undertake independent audits in line with the MSC Chain of Custody Standard. This involved reviews of its traceability system, demonstrating that MSC-certified fish does not get mixed up with non-certified fish at any stage of the production and handling process.
CH&Co business units can now display the MSC Ecolabel on-menu alongside MSC certified fish dishes. Products using the MSC Ecolabel have come from an MSC-certified fishery.
The journey towards certification
CH&Co started its journey towards gaining MSC certification many years ago. Amid concerns about dwindling fish stocks it was supplying, CH&Co quickly responded and revised which species were being offered on its menus and switched to pole-and-line caught tuna (both tinned and fresh).
In a separate initiative to promote under-utilised species of fish, CH&Co’s niche city and fine dining business - Lusso - subsequently championed ‘Ugly Fish Friday’. The initiative saw Lusso chefs positively promote these under used, wild species of fish such as Gunard, Dabs and Whiting that are often discarded on selected Fridays.
In January 2013, CH&Co escalated its commitment to sustainable sourcing and rolled out similar initiatives to ‘Ugly Fish Friday’ to its other business units. CH&Co was then able to sign up to the Sustainable Fish City pledge, committing to remove all endangered fish from its menus and to promote the use of demonstrably sustainable fish, such as Marine Stewardship Council certified fish.
A sustainable menu
George Clark, UK Commercial Manager from Marine Stewardship Council says: “CH&Co has made a remarkable achievement. It has demonstrated that having a sustainable sourcing strategy can be good for business as well as good for the environment. Putting MSC labelled fish on the menu not only means that those fish served are certified sustainable, it also ensures diners recognise which dishes are the ethical choice and helps them to recognise the commitment CH&Co has made.”
CH&Co Business and Industry Chief Executive Caroline Fry says: “We are delighted to have achieved certification from the MSC. Having witnessed the success of initiatives such as Ugly Fish Friday, it seemed logical that we should aim to uphold these standards across all of our businesses. Having robust sustainability credentials makes good business sense and is a concept that employees and clients want. We’re delighted that we have turned this concept into a realistic achievement.”
Over the next three years MSC auditors will conduct annual audits of CH&Co to ensure compliance. These auditors MSC have already established that CH&Co has participated in adheres to the MSC traceability scheme and is committed to long-term purchasing of fish from suppliers that are already MSC certified, cementing its pledge to long-term sustainability.