IN AN ERA of austerity it’s not always easy to square sustainable ambition with commercial reality. But it’s possible, as the likes of Unilever are trying to prove. And that’s why we introduced Footprint – the magazine, the forums, the awards and the website.
In the past five years or so, we have focused on foodservice and hospitality, sectors that had remained in the shadow of their – apparently greener – cousins in retail. Have things changed?
Given that debate persists about the quality of food in schools and hospitals, while supermarkets continue to market their ethical side most effectively (look at the coverage drummed up this summer by Tesco and M&S for their “Tesco & Society” and “Plan A” reports, compared with that mustered by Sodexo), and one might think not.
But that would be doing foodservice companies a disservice. Health and waste are higher on the agenda than ever, and when it comes to reducing meat consumption it’s the retailers that are lurking in the shadows, while the likes of Accor and others are beginning to look at “smarter” menus with more veggie options.
My point is that whether one sector is more or less sustainable than another is largely irrelevant. The models and systems behind the shelves or kitchens are very different (something the government might do well to note - see page 23), but Sodexo can still learn from Sainsbury’s, much as Asda can from Aramark.
That’s why we have introduced a new Footprint Grocery section both here (pages 30-31) and online (and, in due course, at forums). This integration will encourage communication and sharing of best practice across the entire UK food sector. There will also be more coverage from other sectors facing similar challenges.
Much like your sustainability programmes, our project is a work in progress. We want you to see the magazine as a valuable resource, a voice for progress in the sector and a medium for discussing the challenges we face. The new section will be critical to the magazine’s evolution and growing influence – and so will your input.