We believe that the principles of long term sustainable development are fundamental to our business. And, weve learned that it truly is a journey of discovery. Customers have said to us how do you prioritise? and our response is that we want to try and avoid a badge and to be as inclusive as possible. Its much more complex than that, but one size doesnt fit all and we have looked to embed the principles across all that we do.
Q. What about the current financial climate? Do you think the recession has pushed sustainability down the foodservice business agenda?
There is no doubt that value for money has never been more important and there is sensitivity around this. Its made people take stock but Im not sure its diminished responsibility. There is a change in behaviour to recognise where the value lies. For example, if you can source effectively and support the local community then the product wins. If you reduce trade packaging and lets face it, so many consumer products are over-packaged today then costs are reduced and there is a benefit to your own bottom line as well as meeting consumer preferences and trading responsibly.
Q. Over the last 10 years or so, weve seen a dramatic growth in the amount of legislation impacting all areas of the food chain. Do you think this is something we may see more of in the future?
While I think wed all agree that no one company has got it 100per cent perfect, I personally do believe that the industry is working together to contribute to best practice. We can embrace learning from each other in order to push the boundaries further and work closely with associations such as the British Hospitality Association Association (BHA) in order to ensure knowledge and expertise is shared. Legislation is difficult when it comes to creating benchmarks in sustainability, because every business is different and has an individual contribution to make not least, sometimes red tape can produce unforeseen consequences and would need to be thoroughly thought through in such a complex arena.
Q. Is sustainability as important from your hospitality partners viewpoint and has Nestlé Professional seen benefits of its commitment to sustainable practice in this area?
Certainly. For example, were working on combined initiatives with many of our contract catering partners, to strong acclaim from their own customers. Were seeing positive feedback from our workplace partners whose employees have responded notably and positively to the ethos of end-to-end responsibility within their own businesses. Some consumers do nothing they take what they want off the shelf without taking any responsibility for the environment. Others grapple with the complexities of sustainability. But, the majority remains wholly committed to the principles as do we. As a major supplier, we have a real duty to deliver the right products that have been produced and brought to market in the most sustainable way.