Foodservice Footprint supply-chain The Friday Digest: Sodexo gets tough with net-zero laggards Out of Home News Analysis  news-email-top

The Friday Digest: Sodexo gets tough with net-zero laggards

At a time when the UK government is getting cold feet over its net-zero ambition one of the country’s leading caterers is taking an altogether more assertive approach to decarbonisation. Sodexo announced this week that in 2030 it will cease working with suppliers who have failed to demonstrate tangible progress towards achieving net-zero.

The business’s new net-zero supply chain engagement strategy means that by January 2024 the evaluation criteria of all tenders will include a minimum of 10% social value weighting. By September 2025, suppliers representing 75% of Sodexo’s supply chain emissions will need to have set their net-zero science-based targets validated by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), rising to 90% by September 2027. Finally, by 2030 Sodexo will only partner with suppliers who can demonstrate tangible progress through published reporting.

Sodexo has had its own 2040 net-zero target validated by the SBTi. Just 2% of its emissions sit in scopes 1 and 2 with the remaining 98% of its total emissions sitting in scope 3, outside of its direct control. The caterer said it had already begun working closely with a number of its suppliers to support them in formalising and documenting expectations to reduce carbon emissions, including via a supplier mentoring programme. “Their response to this challenge and to our offer of mentoring and other support has been positive and we feel confident that this roadmap will deliver ever more impactful reductions in emissions,” said Aoife Wycherley, head of supply chain at Sodexo UK & Ireland.

Businesses looking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions are to at least some extent reliant on a supportive national infrastructure. Yet this week an influential committee said the UK government needs to do more to help deliver the infrastructure needed to decarbonise the economy. The second national infrastructure assessment – a five yearly review conducted by the National Infrastructure Commission – concluded there is a need for significant public and private investment in infrastructure if the UK is to rebalance its economic geography, meet climate obligations, improve resilience and enhance the natural environment. This includes backing electrification as the only viable option for decarbonising buildings at scale; adding low carbon, flexible technologies to the electricity system; investing in major public transport upgrades in England’s most congested cities; and building additional water supply infrastructure and reducing leakage.

“We stand at a pivotal moment in time, with the opportunity to make a major difference to this country’s future. But we need to get on with it,” said Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission. “People often talk about infrastructure as the backbone of our economy: what our infrastructure needs now is the collective mettle to turn commitments into action that will reap rewards for decades to come.”

The EU has been accused this week of doing the exact opposite with key food and farming commitments excluded from its workplan for 2024. Euractiv reported that notable absences include the sustainable food systems law, a key element of the EU’s flagship farm to fork strategy and a central pillar of the green deal, which aims to accelerate and facilitate the transition to sustainable food systems. Also missing is a planned overhaul of animal welfare legislation, including a ban on caged farming.

The Guardian meanwhile reported that the workplan excludes a promise to ban toxic chemicals in consumer products. In its 2020 chemicals strategy, the EU set out plans to ban the most harmful chemicals in consumer products – allowing their use only where essential. It also committed to phasing out the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the EU – also known as forever chemicals – unless their use is essential.

One member state blazing a trail on sustainable food – and diets specifically – is Denmark which has become the first country to publish a national action plan for plant-based foods. The plan, released by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries of Denmark, sets out how the government wants to strengthen and promote the Danish plant-based sector through actions including chef training in plant-based cooking and a greater focus on plant-based diets in primary schools.

Plant-based advocacy group, Good Food Institute Europe, said Denmark had set an important precedent. “Europe is the world’s biggest market for plant-based meat, and to take advantage of this growing industry – as well as to boost food security and create future-proof green jobs – other national governments across the continent should follow the Danish lead,” said senior policy manager Acacia Smith.

Also covered in this week’s Footprint news is a warning that an unfolding water crisis threatens food security; a row over Red Tractor’s new environmental standard; and a call for the government to prioritise local food in public procurement.

Footprint’s latest research report – ‘Is regenerative the future of farming?’ – in association with Nestlé Professional is also now available to download.