Four new leading caterers join 14-strong catering commitment to get the UK eating more vegWritten by Anjali Dattani
Four major UK caterers and the University of West London have begun 2019 by joining the Peas Please initiative, playing their part in making veg more accessible and appealing for UK consumers. Independent think tank the Food Foundation estimates that for every three meals eaten out and on-the-go, we consume an average of half a portion of veg1, but these caterers join a further ten catering organisations who made pledges in 2017 and 2018.
Compass Group UK & Ireland is the largest food and support services organisation in the UK, and has pledged to increase their procurement volumes of vegetables across all sectors of its business by 15% by 2020. They will also be reformulating recipes to include more vegetable content wherever possible, and will be launching a plant forward promotion encouraging and supporting all customers to eat more vegetables.
As a schools specialist, Caterlink will be helping to increase children’s vegetable intake across the UK. They have pledged to achieve a 10% average increase in portions of veg served in their recipes compared to July 2017 - July 2019. They will also redesign key recipes to include more veg across their menu plans, and will promote vegetables through the 'Added Benefits' sessions in schools, as well as collaborating with campaigns such as Veg Power.
Olive Catering has committed to increase vegetable servings by 10%, as well as promoting seasonal vegetables with recipe ideas and implementing veg smoothie bars in contracts. Mini-mart stands will be made available in offices with salad and veg give aways as well as nutritional information. A “meat free day” will be introduced, using a menu that promotes seasonal vegetables.
Vertas will also be playing its part in increasing veg consumption in the UK, and has pledged to develop its menus to ensure that a minimum six varieties of vegetables and salads are available each week in customers’ meal experiences. Extra vegetables will be added to some of their dishes. (including our ‘Life on the Veg’ and ‘Pulse’ menu specials) and they will offer fresh homemade vegetable soup as a daily special during the winter months in high schools.
The University of West London will be educating the chefs of tomorrow by providing courses on healthy and sustainable food, with a particular focus on why vegetables are an important part of the solution. They will also increase servings of vegetables by 10% across three of its restaurants and canteens.
The new veg-promoting ‘Eat Them To Defeat Them’ campaign was devised by adam&eveDDB for ITV and Veg Power. The advert takes a bold new approach to promoting veg, engaging kids and parents in a new way and looking to reinvigorate how vegetables are viewed and consumed. In a 60-second film children, are cast as the heroes in movie scenario with a horde of vegetables emerging “from underground to take over the world”. The ad then depicts the kids chomping through a whole selection of veg in order to “eat them to defeat them”. The campaign, which launched in Coronation Street on Friday 25th January, is funded by the biggest ever coalition of supermarkets: Aldi, Asda, Coop, Iceland, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose along with food brand Birds Eye. Supermarkets are also supporting the campaign in-store and online.
Peas Please is coordinated by partner organisations in each of the four UK nations, and aims to bring together businesses and brands from across the food system to secure commitments to improve the availability, affordability and quality of the veg offer in shops, schools, fast-food restaurants and beyond. Peas Please has delivered 4.8 million additional portions of veg in its first year.
Anna Taylor, Executive Director of the Food Foundation, said: “Peas Please shows that it is possible to make it easier for everyone to eat more veg but it needs concerted leadership from progressive businesses. We’ve made great progress in the last eight months but the pressure is now on to change pledges into portions to ensure genuine impact on the nation’s health.”
Nicky Martin, Head of Nutrition, Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the veg pledge. Compass Group UK & Ireland is committed to providing our customers with a balanced diet, and part of that is ensuring that our food offers contain vegetables. Introducing more plant-based meals, not only supports our consumers’ desire for healthier choices, but also has a positive environmental impact too. We have worked hard with our executive chefs to re-engineer recipes to make them higher in vegetable content.”
Megan Waring, Head of Nutrition at Caterlink Ltd, said: “At Caterlink the central focus of our menus is making sure that children have healthy, balanced and tasty meals. It is great to be able to put some targets around this, and to focus on getting more veg into kids’ lunches.”
Caroline Thompson-Barr, Head of Operations at Vertas, said: "We’ve already made great strides in reducing sugar and salt across our education menus. For younger students we’re using vegetables like beetroot and parsnip as natural sweeteners, for teenagers we have ‘Life on the Veg’ and ‘Pulse’ dishes, offering healthier, more sustainable options. Signing up to this national initiative was an obvious decision for us as encouraging children and young people to eat more vegetables makes perfect sense. We are looking forward to serving even more tasty veg across the business".
Peter Cross, Senior Lecturer, University of West London, said: "At the University of West London we want to make sustainability a core part of the courses for our Culinary Arts and Food Business Management students; combining this with making an actual pledge to serve more veg on site is a great way to walk the walk too."