Foodservice Footprint Issue 11 – May 2011

Which would you choose: a voluntary initiative with you all working together to achieve change; or tighter regulation that forces change? It’s 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 (there’s 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, it’s 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, Sodexo’s 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 Government’s journey to a healthier nation. That pull will help, but there also needs to be a push.

 

There’s no arguing that foodservice is a disparate sector. But disparity can’t be an excuse for disengagement. Everyone in this sector has a responsibility to take action - whatever their size. If this deal doesn’t work, the Government says regulation will come thick and fast.

 

And there are other areas where we risk the regulator’s wrath. Packaging, for instance, is ripe for taxation as we discuss on page 24. We’re 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. That’s 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.

 

You’ll hopefully notice the magazine is undergoing a few ‘nip and tuck’ changes. We’ve introduced a Health & Wellbeing section – an obvious move given how closely aligned the issues are with sustainability. We’re 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 don’t 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.

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