Sustainability is no longer the debate indulged by the big boys. It is a hardhitting commercial reality affecting the entire supply chain. The candour from members of the Footprint Forum, contributors, partners and our readers, never ceases to amaze me. It is these people, from all stages of the supply chain, who are ahead of the curve with a continuous message of Be counted, and put forward your arguments and experiences. We are now sceptical about claims professing that the energy cost of producing food and getting it to the table is around 4 per cent of the national footprint. Defra research counters this claim, concluding that shopping-trips alone are actually responsible for 48 per cent of food miles in Britain. Studies claiming that British tomatoes grown under heated glass emit four times more CO2 than their Spanish, outdoorgrown counterparts and that a lamb from New Zealand requires a quarter as much energy to get to a London outlet as a Welsh one, are up for scrutiny. The September Footprint Forum convened to promote understanding between foodservice and agriculture. There were clear signals that both industries are cooperating more and that government is keen to engage and facilitate. Manifest to this is that we no longer pigeon-hole sustainability as environmental. Community and economics are part of the bigger picture as entities in their own right and far from being CSR ticked boxes, are for many businesses the most serious strategy for 2011. Ethics are more important than ever. In 2003 the Farm Animal Welfare Council reported that the halal method of slaughter results in significant pain and distress. The RSPCA apparently concurs. However, what the likes of the Mail on Sunday have to understand is that foodservice must provide halal properly and appropriately to people who want it and they need to be confident it is genuine. Does foodservice understand everything about halal and can it reassure customers about the welfare isssues? These are issues that need to be addressed and grasped by all. Footprint predicts foodservice will have to prepare for changes in the ethical landscape. Ethical marques will not be taken at face value and operators need to be informed as to alternatives. The next Footprint Forum will focus on this very issue. What has emerged over the last years is a tremendously advanced foodservice industry, embracing an evolution to improve sustainability. But there are advance-parties and it is important that those not entirely comfortable with the subject in the culture of their own business, arent left behind. Back to the message of our stakeholders; embracing sustainability can only have commercial benefits its not going to go away!
Written by Footprint
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