Anjali Dattani

Anjali Dattani

Chester has become the first Sustainable Palm Oil City in the world, as a result of a long-running campaign led by conservationists at Chester Zoo.

More than 50 organisations in the city have revolutionised their supply chains and committed to sourcing palm oil – a vegetable oil used in thousands of household products from food items to cleaning materials and cosmetics – from entirely sustainable sources.

Oil palm plantations are causing widespread habitat destruction in South East Asian rainforests, pushing iconic species such as orangutans and tigers to the edge of extinction.

But now, under the guidance of conservation experts from Chester Zoo, an unprecedented collaboration of businesses, restaurants, schools and manufacturers from across the city of Chester have united to help tackle the crisis.

The organisations involved have removed unsustainable products from their supply chains, switching to sustainable alternatives and have made time-bound pledges to use only 100% sustainable palm oil products.

Conservationists believe Chester’s achievement in becoming the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City is a significant step towards preventing further rainforest destruction in tropical regions.

Cat Barton, Field Programmes Manager at Chester Zoo, said: “This is a major moment in the fight to save orangutans and other wildlife from extinction.

“A vast array of species are under threat and on the brink of being lost forever, because oil palm plantations are wiping out rainforests to produce the food and household items we all consume every day. But it is not too late. By embracing a more sustainable future, we can stop this crisis.

“The fact that more than 50 organisations in one city alone have made changes to the products they use – and committed to a 100% sustainable future – shows that the tide is turning.

“We are already seeing the wider impact of the campaign. More cities are now engaging in talks to follow this model and major large companies nationwide are working with us to make the switch to sustainable palm oil.

“Thank you to each and every individual or organisation who has taken action to make Chester the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City. Together, we can prevent extinction.”

Conservationists have long advocated that fully sustainable palm oil is the only viable solution to the extinction crisis. If consumers and organisations were to stop using palm oil, an alternative supply would need to be found for the global demand for edible vegetable oils. Because other oil crops – such as coconuts, soya, olives, sunflowers and maize – are less productive per square kilometre, even more land would need to be converted to agriculture.

Chris Matheson, MP for the City of Chester, said: “I am so pleased to have supported this project since the start. I know how much work the zoo has put into achieving their ambition of creating the first Sustainable Palm Oil City in the world, and I am really excited about the future of this campaign. I look forward to hearing about other cities in the UK and across the world joining the movement that Chester Zoo has started. This is fabulous news for the zoo, fabulous news for Chester and fabulous news for the planet.”

Conservationists from Chester Zoo developed the Sustainable Palm Oil City model based on the framework created by the Sustainable Fish Cities project, led by independent group Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming. The campaign is backed by the Orangutan Land Trust and the Sumatran Orangutan Society, endorsed by key conservation organisations such as the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).

The initiative has been supported by a host of industry advisors such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, as well as palm oil sustainability consultants Murdoch Associates and Efeca.

Jason Ellison, owner of Chez Jules restaurant, the first business in the city to commit to the Sustainable Palm Oil City scheme, said: “I visited Malaysia and Borneo in 2008 and I was appalled to see the acrid smoke that lingered over Kuala Lumpur and then realised in Borneo, that it was all from rainforests being burnt and decimated for palm oil plantations. This was my very first experience first-hand of the effects of palm oil.

“When the zoo approached me in 2014 to see if I would like to work alongside them to try and raise awareness about palm oil and the need for sustainability within restaurants and the city, I jumped at the chance. The whole team at the zoo have worked tirelessly from our first embryonic meetings until now, achieving the goal of Chester becoming the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City, which is absolutely fantastic and I am very proud of everyone involved who has signed up to this great cause. Long may awareness continue to grow as more restaurants, suppliers and consumers all realise they really can make a difference.”

Edsential, who provide services such as catering to the education sector, have enrolled 138 primary schools and six secondary schools across the region into the scheme, including many schools who have engaged directly with Chester Zoo’s conservation outreach education programmes. Edsential’s action ensures the palm oil sustainability of more than 5.5million school meals per year.

Ian McGrady, Managing Director of Edsential Community Interest Company, said: “Chester Zoo inspired us and our schools with their campaign. We are in the privileged position of feeding most of Chester’s primary school children every day and we felt that we could make a real contribution to this project. Our children, parents and schools want to do something practical to help with rainforest conservation; the Sustainable Palm Oil City project has allowed us to support them to do just that.

“The project has inspired us to go much further and we are in the process of becoming fully certified by the RSPO, so the world’s first Sustainable Palm Oil City will soon have the world’s first certified fully sustainable school catering provider.”

The University of Chester’s support for the campaign means that education institutions in the region are supporting the campaign at all age levels.

Ian White, Domestic Bursar and Executive Director of Hospitality and Residential Services at the University of Chester, said: “This is excellent news. The University and Chester Zoo have a long history of working together, and we were more than happy to work with them on such a fantastic, globally-important project, and to have contributed towards becoming the first Sustainable Palm Oil City. As a Sustainable Palm Oil City Champion, the University’s Hospitality and Residential Services Department has worked closely with our suppliers, to ensure that every product sold across our catering outlets that contains palm oil comes from a sustainable source.”

Chester’s major arts venue Storyhouse is one of the visitor attractions to have thrown its support behind the campaign, transforming its food provision to deliver a 100% sustainable supply chain, from the food in their restaurants to the ice cream in their theatres.

Andrew Bentley, CEO of Storyhouse, said: “We want to collaborate with Chester Zoo on this vital project, not only as a restaurant, but as a creative centre for the community. It’s incredible that the city is leading the way to pioneer such an important campaign. This is absolutely a city-wide team effort and we are proud to be part of it.”

 

Because interest in vegan eating is skyrocketing in the UK, more and more restaurants are scrambling to introduce animal-free options. With decades of experience in this field, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched a new ” to help restaurants, pubs, caterers, and other food-industry insiders expand their vegan repertoires. 

From helpful tips to inspiring ideas, PETA's Guide to Introducing Vegan Options will help those in the food industry put their best animal-friendly foot forward. With huge numbers of Brits seeking plant-based foods, offering tasty, innovative vegan dishes is an inclusive way for businesses to expand their customer base. There are plant-based versions of nearly every animal-derived food, so it's time to look beyond hummus and sorbet.

The guide addresses the ins and outs of vegan eating in digestible sections with titles such as “Why Offer Vegan Options?”, “Quick Switches for Menu Favourites”, and “Hidden Ingredients”. Featuring creative suggestions for "veganising" traditional dishes, including a satisfying "fish" and chips made with battered tofu or even banana blossoms, and for using high-quality, animal-friendly substitutes like egg-free mayonnaise, vegan cheese and yogurt. The guide also highlights some of the best vegan options already on offer, including PizzaExpress' pulled-jackfruit pizza and Wagamama's Vegatsu curry.

Download your free copy here.

“Huge numbers of Brits are seeking plant-based foods, and offering tasty, innovative vegan dishes is the easiest way for restaurants to cash in,” says PETA Director of Vegan Corporate Projects Dawn Carr. “There are plant-based versions of nearly every animal-derived food, so it’s time to look beyond houmous and sorbet. From helpful tips to inspiring ideas, PETA’s guide will help those in the food industry put their best animal-friendly foot forward.”

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” – notes that in addition to sparing the lives of nearly 200 animals every year, each person who goes vegan also reduces his or her own risk of suffering from heart disease, diabetes, strokes, cancer, and numerous other health concerns. Vegans also have significantly lower carbon footprints than meat-eaters do, as animal agriculture is a major producer of the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change.

A ‘disorderly Brexit’ could see the UK’s hospitality industry suffer a £1.8 billion reduction in economic output, compared to an ‘orderly Brexit’ – a new study has revealed.

  • 60% of UK hospitality businesses highlighted that leaving the EU will negatively impact their ability to hire kitchen and restaurant workers, cleaning and housekeeping staff as well as maintenance workers
  • Whatever the Brexit scenario, hospitality businesses can expect to lose over a fifth of this current workforce

The report, developed by workforce management expert Quinyx in collaboration with Development Economics and Censuswide, includes economic analysis of ONS data and findings from an employer sentiment survey of 1,008 senior decision makers in UK firms that hire blue-collar workers. It highlights the importance of these workers to the UK economy, and the severe impact Brexit uncertainty will have on their jobs. 

As part of the research, Quinyx compared the predicted growth and economic output of the UK’s manual and elementary service workers in the hospitality sector under both a disorderly and an orderly Brexit scenario. The comparison found that the overall increase in economic output generated by the these hospitality workers would be over £3.4 billion per year by 2024 under an orderly Brexit, compared to over £1.6 billion per year under a disorderly Brexit – this equates to a 52% reduction or £1.8 billion loss each year.

The decrease in economic output would come from a lack of access to hospitality sector workers in manual or elementary service roles – for example kitchen and restaurant workers, cleaning and housekeeping staff or maintenance workers. This could come primarily as a result of uncertainty around, or lack of, immigration policies.

The impact on businesses will vary across the UK. The research found that in the event of a disorderly Brexit, London, the East of England and the South East will see the greatest reductions in available workers and economic output.

The research found that under any Brexit scenario employers in the UK’s hospitality sector expect to lose – on average – 23% of their blue-collar workforce as a result of the UK’s departure from the EU, with 11% saying they expect to lose 31% or more. Despite this, 25% of hospitality businesses have no plan for managing their future pipeline of these workers post-Brexit.

Mansoor Malik, Managing Director UK & International at Quinyx, comments:

‘’The impact that a disorderly Brexit will have on the UK’s kitchen staff, restaurant workers, and cleaners as well as the hospitality businesses that employ them is concerning. Access to manual workers or those in elementary service roles is crucial for ensuring the UK’s economic wellbeing – and employers need to make plans to avoid staff shortages in the future.

‘’A first step for employers facing staff shortages is looking at ways that they can bridge the gap between supply and demand. Given the degree of uncertainty on the horizon, seeking out new ways to attract and retain domestic workers should be a primary focus.’’

The research also found that difficulties accessing these workers as a result of Brexit are likely to be further exacerbated, as hospitality employers already face challenges in recruiting and retaining them.

Over half (51%) of UK employers in the hospitality industry with a manual and elementary service workforce currently struggle to recruit these workers, with an even greater percentage (56%) reporting that they struggle to retain them. Some of the main barriers to the recruitment and retention of these workers in the UK are low pay, unsociable hours and lack of career progression. Lack of flexibility was also cited by one-fifth (20%) of hospitality employers as a significant grievance among their workforce.

Mansoor continues:

“Our research found that skills shortages, as a by-product of poor retention and the inability to recruit blue-collar workers, result in a 10% reduction of growth and an 11% drop in productivity in hospitality businesses, on average.

‘’Hiring and retaining staff is no easy task at the best of times, but with Brexit on the horizon it’s crucial that hospitality businesses now do all they can to attract motivated workers to these roles. Employers need to be creative and provide the greater flexibility that manual and elementary service workers are looking for.”

Defra and The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have been running a series of workshops on how allergen information is provided for food products.

The workshops are for 16 -24-year-old food allergy consumers specifically. It’s an opportunity for them to share their views on this subject and most importantly to help Defra and the FSA to design the right policy to make food safer for consumers. They don’t need to prepare anything in advance, just come along and be part of the discussion.  

The Department for Environment, food and Rural Affairs and the Food Standards Agency have been conducting a review into allergen information provision. We have recently launched a consultation that seeks views on different options to improve the provision of allergen information to consumers on food that is prepacked for direct sale (PPDS).

(Note: PPDS foods are categorised as those that are packed on the same premise from which they are sold – such as a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase.

Time and location

The workshop will be held at: Defra, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF on Thursday 14 March. 

Please arrive at 10:30. The workshop will finish at 13:30.

Note: We will be covering travel expenses to help you get there.

 

Register for the workshop by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Wednesday, 06 March 2019 13:45

Free-from continues to enjoy healthy growth

‘Free from’ is currently the No 1 emerging ingredient trend with 25% of all females, and 16% of all males, purchasing free from, with almost 40% of free from consumers believing that free from products are healthier. The total annual free from sector is now worth around £522m and growing at 14% year on year, with the ambient category – which includes healthier snacking products – accounting for the lion’s share of this at £327m. 

‘Lifestylers’ now account for 87% of free from consumers – quite a swing from only 10 or 15 years ago when a gluten intolerance automatically consigned you to an often dreary and restricted diet. Increasingly influenced by, and understanding the benefits of, a free from diet, lifestylers are driving the category like never before.

With over 40 years heritage, Eat Real is the fastest growing ‘Free From’ snack brand in the UK. Eat Real was first launched in 2013 and is now worth nearly 35m, since we have launched, we have won several awards within the Food industry both in the UK and worldwide.

With the popularity of free from and plant-based diets showing no signs of slowing down any time soon, the healthier snacking category has enjoyed another bumper year with growth up 37.5% in value – and according to healthier snacking brand Eat Real, it parallels the choices that consumers are making.

“As consumers experiment with the ever-growing range of free from products available today, they’re realising they deliver big time in terms of taste, texture and health benefits – and this is only going to drive growth long term,” comments Debbie King, Director of Commercial Sales & Marketing at Eat Real.

“The shift towards healthier and free from eating has led to an explosion in popularity with many people actively seeking out great-tasting healthier snacks in preference to more traditional products,” adds Debbie.

Wider social trends in healthier snacking are no doubt driving change but changing shopper lifestyles are also playing a part in this shift in attitudes. With 68% of free from spend coming from under 28 year olds, Millennials are clearly leading the charge.

Time poor, more informed and more likely to snack more frequently than previous generations, Millennials and Gen Z are putting health very firmly at the top of their agendas and actively seeking out more diverse flavours and healthier snacks in preference to more traditional products. They’re also a major force in the growth of all-day snacking.

“More than half the population is now buying into the ‘better for you’ category but they don’t want to compromise on flavour,” adds Debbie. “They’re much more discerning, with lifestyle and dietary choices a priority, and they’re increasingly on the lookout for healthy snacks which fuel their bodies but don’t compromise on taste.”

Eat Real’s wide range of healthier snacks are its Hummus Chips, Lentil Chips, Quinoa Chips and Veggie Straws. Free from all 14 declarable allergens and artificial ingredients (perfect for sharing with no risk of cross-allergy contamination or intolerance), they’re also suitable for Vegan, Kosher and Halal diets and come in a wide range of classic and innovative on-trend flavours.

Insight report reveals urgent need to accelerate change to tackle climate change.

The UK foodservice sector must turbo charge its efforts to tackle climate change and environmental damage through a set of three ambitious but achievable targets, a new report published today by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) concludes.

While the report, The Tastiest Challenge on the Planet, identifies pockets of progress on the big sustainability issues, it finds that the pace of change is nowhere near fast nor widespread enough, as demonstrated by the UK’s position in 24th place on the global food sustainability league table compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition Foundation.

Andrew Stephen, Chief Executive of the SRA, said: “The scale and urgency of the issues facing the planet are huge.  We need to challenge what we call normal, or good enough in hospitality in the UK. While the industry is taking lots of small steps, they aren’t keeping pace with the scope of what is needed. It is no longer sufficient simply to talk about being a sustainable business without targeting bigger change on the biggest issues.”  

The report evaluates the state of sustainability in the UK foodservice sector, including a review of what operators have done in 2018, an assessment of the pressing challenges ahead, it’s preparedness for tackling them, and a three-pronged action plan for the industry for 2019 and beyond.

In addition to an exclusive peak inside the backdoor of more than 6,700 commercial kitchens, via the findings of the SRA’s Sustainability Rating in 2018, the report includes insights and ideas from the boardrooms of some of Britain’s best-known and most influential hospitality businesses like Azzurri Group and JD Wetherspoon, as well as from a handful of kitchens of influential chefs including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Raymond Blanc.

A panel of experts, including food policy expert Professor Tim Lang of City, University of London, and Nobel Prize winning climate scientist Professor Riccardo Valentini, provided the expertise in defining the actions the sector needs to take in the months and years ahead.

A string of recent high-profile scientific reports has highlighted the urgent need for action to keep the planet’s temperature rise below 1.5°C. Food waste and livestock farming account for more than 20% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions while foodservice still wastes almost one million tonnes of food and meat still dominates menus. 

The SRA is challenging operators to act decisively now to reduce meat consumption and keep food on the plate and out of the bin.

Many of the chefs and business leaders interviewed for the report revealed that they were reluctant to dictate change, feeling more comfortable facilitating a movement. The SRA believes the time has come for a more proactive approach.

The potential benefits are huge. If foodservice reduced food waste by a quarter, it could cut its carbon emissions by just under a million tonnes a year (0.9Mt) – equivalent to grounding more than 2,000 London to New York return flights. And, as the World Resources Institute and WRAP reported recently, there’s also a massive financial incentive, as the average return on investment in food waste reduction programmes coming is 7:1.

With foodservice now fully aware of the need to reduce packaging and specifically single-use plastic, the SRA has isolated this as the third target area. For, while the report notes that most responsible businesses have ditched plastic straws and there are isolated examples of more proactive action on plastic, as many as a third of SRA members continue to offer takeaway packaging that is not recyclable, reusable or compostable.

Andrew Stephen added: “These are also areas in which we see the greatest abatement potential for positive change within the sector. If everyone matched the performance of the best operators in these areas, then collectively we would achieve huge gains.

“The whole sector needs to act now, because if we don’t fix food, we can’t fix climate change. It’s time to seize the opportunity to embrace meaningful change towards a more restorative model, capturing customers’ desire for more sustainable menus, growing pressure from investors to see the businesses they have a stake in tackling the big issues and the environmental imperative to avoid climate catastrophe.”

The SRA is calling for accelerated, measurable and tangible changes in line with the achievable targets set by WRAP, in its Plastics Pact and Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, and the World Resources Institute’s Cool Food Pledge. Supported by a programme of insightful resources and inspirational events, the SRA is committed to increasing engagement with all three of these programmes to cut food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030, reduce the sector’s food waste by 25% by 2025 and meet the four targets set in the Plastics Pact.

The report makes clear that adding a single additional salad or vegetarian option to the menu is insufficient. Businesses like Zizzi and Wagamama have invested significantly in making changes to the balance of their menus and both are enjoying an uplift in sales.

Failure to measure, monitor, set reduction targets, redistribute surplus or offer customers the opportunity to take home leftovers stands out as is an enormous missed opportunity.

The business leaders interviewed for the report acknowledged that straws are the tip of the plastic iceberg and further timely, decisive action is required to remove single-use plastic from UK commercial kitchens and front of house.

Costa Coffee has demonstrated real leadership on this issue, collaborating with cup makers and the waste industry to make it possible to recycle 100m cups a year and has extended the scheme’s impact by opening it up to four of the other big players in the market, Caffè Nero, Greggs, McDonald’s and Pret A Manger.

The SRA believes that if restaurants and the wider foodservice sector do act decisively and collaboratively on these three issues now there’s an opportunity to change the behaviour of millions of customers, reduce its impact and mark itself out as a global leader.

Henry Dimbleby, Founder of Leon and a non-exec board member of Defra says in the report: “UK restaurants alone use a tiny amount of global resources, but their ability to make the weather and influence how people feel about sustainability and food is massive. And what we do, others in the world will follow.”

Read the full report here and contact the SRA to discuss how you can start tackling the tastiest challenge on the planet.

BBFAW recognises progress in the Restaurants & Bars Sector but still no Tier 1 ranking as Marks & Spencer, Cranswick, Noble Foods, Waitrose and Co-op Group (Switzerland) retain their positions as global leaders on farm animal welfare. 

The seventh annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare, backed by Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection, confirms Cranswick, Noble Foods, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Co-op Group (Switzerland) as global leaders on farm animal welfare. However, while many of the 150 companies covered by the Benchmark, have now adopted farm animal welfare policies and implemented farm animal management systems, the majority provide limited or no information on their farm animal welfare performance. 

Commenting on the overall findings, Nicky Amos, Executive Director of BBFAW noted: “Company practice continues to show consistent year on year improvement. For example, 53% of companies now have explicit board or senior management oversight of farm animal welfare and 71% have published formal improvement objectives for farm animal welfare.  However, these encouraging findings on management processes are not matched by performance; for example, while just over half of companies report on the proportion of animals that are free from close confinement, only one in four companies covered by the Benchmark provides any information on the proportion of animals that are stunned prior to slaughter and only one in five companies reports on live animal transport times.”

The 2018 Report demonstrates that UK companies achieved a significantly higher overall average score (61%), compared to companies from other geographic areas, including North America (28%) and Europe, excluding the UK, (34%).

Philip Lymbery, CEO of Compassion in World Farming commented: “This position, however, could be undermined by Brexit if existing welfare legislation is not retained in the UK. Conversely, Brexit could be an opportunity for the UK to get even further ahead if the government were to make its own animal welfare legislation, for example, by introducing a ban on caged egg production (as is the case in Germany) and banning live exports for fattening and slaughter.”

Of the 150 companies (up from 110 last year) assessed, 35 were in the Restaurants & Bars sector including the top 30 restaurant chains globally with annual revenues of over US$1 billion. There were seven new entrants from the sector with Papa John’s Pizza, The Cheesecake Factory and CKE Restaurants amongst them.  Overall, in the Restaurants & Bars sector, there were four companies that moved up one tier, two that fell by one tier and 22 non-movers.

Traditionally the Restaurant & Bars sector (a category that includes many of the food service providers) has lagged behind the Retailers & Wholesalers sector and the Producers & Manufacturers sector.  However, in 2017, the performance gap closed between them and has continued to do so this year with the average scores for both the Retailers & Wholesalers and Restaurants & Bars sectors being 32% in 2018.  The average score for the Producers & Manufacturers lags slightly at 31%.

Despite the improved average performance, there remains no restaurant or bar company listed in Tier 1.  The two highest performers are Greggs (a non-mover) in Tier 2 and Whitbread which has moved up a tier into Tier 2.

Whitbread’s success has been driven partly by a successful move towards using welfare outcomes derived from animal-based indicators to assess welfare on farm and at slaughter for its principal livestock species. Historically, Whitbread has relied predominantly on self-reporting by suppliers to ensure compliance with its welfare requirements. However, KPI assessment is now a stand-alone element of Whitbread’s independent inspections across its supply chains.  This performance monitoring process provides the company with an overview of emerging health and welfare trends.

Yum! Brands deserves recognition for moving up two tiers to Tier 3 this year.  This improvement can be attributed to the publication of Yum! Brands' Sustainable Animal Protein Principles and Good Antimicrobial Stewardship policy, as well as improved reporting on its animal welfare governance and policy implementation, and animal welfare performance. Despite this progress, Yum! Brands recognises that there is more work to be done to ensure that farm animal welfare is integral to its business strategy.

Other restaurant and bar companies moving up a tier in 2018 include Dunkin! Brands and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

For more than 15 years, Chipotle has committed to sourcing from farms that follow animal welfare practices which far exceed industry standards, while avoiding the use of unnecessary antibiotics and synthetic hormones. In 2018, Chipotle identified the opportunity to further improve its chicken welfare standards by addressing a number of critical welfare issues; better genetics for improved quality of life, more living space, natural light, perches and pecking substrates to stimulate behaviour, and more humane slaughter practices.  Chipotle will partner with its suppliers and farmers to build the market for chicken raised in a way that addresses these issues and will engage with animal scientists and welfare experts to adopt standards that are aligned with the new requirements of the Global Animal Partnership’s standard for broiler chickens.

Yael Cypers, Animal Welfare Manager, Chipotle Mexican Grill said: “At Chipotle, we are passionate about the food we serve and how it is sourced.  We partner with suppliers who make every effort to show concern and care for the animals they raise and conduct regular audits to ensure our standards are being met.  It is important that we are always finding ways to improve these processes and given that the BBFAW is considered one of the most authoritative global benchmarks for the assessment of corporate farm animal welfare practice, we are pleased that Chipotle’s rating has improved year on year.”

There were several key non-movers in the Restaurants & Bars sector, including JD Wetherspoon, Mitchells & Butlers, Starbucks, Sodexo, Compass Group and Domino’s Pizza, while two big names - McDonald’s and Subway fell one tier.

Subway’s fall was largely a consequence of what appears to be an overhaul of the company’s webpages and its sustainability reporting on its US webpage.  Information previously published on national websites was not available at the time of the BBFAW’s assessment, which meant that it was not possible to determine whether the company is still fulfilling its previously stated commitments to improve animal welfare, for example, eliminating gestation crates.

McDonald’s fall from Tier 2 to Tier 3 is partly attributed to its reduced reporting on company-wide policies relating to key welfare issues (e.g. the avoidance of growth promoting substances and the avoidance of routine mutilations), as well as the increased weighting assigned to performance reporting and impact questions in 2018.

The Benchmark undoubtedly provides a solid framework for companies on which to build and improve their performance and it is driving change.  The overall average score at 32% is down from 37% in 2017, but this is not unexpected with the introduction of 43 new companies and the increased weighting (from 24% in 2017 to 35% of the total score in 2018) of the performance reporting and impact questions in the 2018 Benchmark.  If we were to exclude the scores for the new companies and the increase in weighting, then the overall average scores would have been 38% and 41% respectively.  Notwithstanding the like-for-like improvements in scoring, it is clear that there is much work to be done before the food industry is effectively managing the business risks and opportunities associated with farm animal welfare. 

Dr Rory Sullivan, Expert Advisor to the BBFAW noted: “Investors need to have confidence that companies are delivering the outcomes that they aspire to, in terms of improved farm animal welfare and in terms of better business risk management. The Benchmark exposes the gap between policies and performance, highlighting those companies whose governance processes work effectively and those that are not fit for purpose in a world where farm animal welfare is an increasingly important driver of business value.” 

Philip Lymbery, CEO at Compassion in World Farming added: “The Benchmark and the investors supporting it have played a key role in keeping farm animal welfare firmly on the corporate agenda. As this year’s report shows, we need to ensure that this attention delivers real and concrete benefits for animals farmed for food.”

The Benchmark is a long-term change initiative which is showing signs of progress. Of the 55 food companies that have been continuously benchmarked since 2012, 17 (31%) have moved up one Tier, 20 (36%) have moved up two Tiers and 8 (15%) have moved up three Tiers.  Furthermore, the average score for these trend companies has improved from 25% in 2012 to 48% in 2018.  These improvements are even more striking given the tightening of the Benchmark criteria over time and these companies should be congratulated. Their success demonstrates that BBFAW is driving higher farm animal welfare standards across the world’s leading food businesses and, while there is still much work to be done, there is both an appetite and a willingness for change.

BBFAW provides an annual, independent assessment of farm animal welfare management and performance in global food companies. It enables investors, companies, NGOs and other stakeholders to understand corporate practice and performance on farm animal welfare. More information on the programme can be found at www.bbfaw.com

A Cotswolds supermarket is set to become the UK’s first major retailer to make it mandatory for suppliers to tell shoppers where their ingredients are sourced from. 

To underline its commitment, the Midcounties Co-operative in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, will make it mandatory for suppliers to prove and publish where they source their ingredients from in a bid to deliver consumer transparency through the food chain.

On Wednesday, February 27th, the food retailer will actively delist every food and drink brand across its entire ‘Best of our Counties’ range that refuses to have its ingredient supply chain audited and published for public scrutiny.

The event will mark a major milestone in the journey of Happerley, the organisation working on behalf of the whole UK food industry and all consumers to develop and implement a means to secure provenance honesty and transparency, and empower the consumer to know the journey of their food.

Happerley QR codes will be available at point of sale across the store’s entire Best of our Counties range, ahead of a wider roll-out across hundreds of stores.

Those in attendance include Adam Henson, renowned TV presenter, author and farmer, Phil Ponsonby, CEO of Midcounties Co-operative, Matthew Rymer, CEO and founder of Happerley, and Peter Jinman OBE, Chairman of Happerley’s Advisory Board.

Phil Ponsonby said: “Transparency is a core value of ours and we are delighted to have supported Happerley from the start and believe this project will grow and grow. We are 100 per cent committed to it.”

Taking place from 10.30am to 3.30pm, a tour of the supermarket will be followed up with the unveiling of the new provenance technology.

There will also be a chance to meet participating food and drink producers and a panel of authoritative guest speakers will conduct a Q&A covering the eight points of consumer interest; communities, sustainability, packaging, welfare, environment, energy, nutrition, and education.

Matthew Rymer added: “Food and drink have become one of the most opaque industries where disingenuous branding, marketing and selective truths disconnect consumers from the truth they deserve. Consumers increasingly want to know the impact of their food and drink purchases and the whole industry can benefit by delivering a means to empower the consumer to know the journey of their food. 

“It is the hope of our board that Happerley will now become the credible and trusted currency of truth across the entire industry. Moves to take the marque into an independent, not for profit entity are now underway.”

Anyone interested in attending the event can contact Megan Waters on 01242 222848, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For further information on Happerley, please visit https://happerley.co.uk/.

Thursday, 21 February 2019 13:50

CUBO’s 2019 Awards open for entry

Recognising the cutting-edge talent of those working in campus and commercial services across Higher Education, CUBO (College and University Business Officers), has launched its CUBO 2019 Awards which will celebrate achievements and the extraordinary commitment of those individuals, witnessed over the past year. 

The highly sought-after CUBO Awards are open to all HE institutions in the UK and Ireland (as well as their business partners) and showcase a range of services dedicated to delivering excellence in the student experience, from catering to accommodation and retail, conferencing and leisure….  

Winners will be announced at a glittering Awards ceremony which forms part of CUBO’s Summer Conference in Swansea 3-5 July 2019. In a first for the association, the 2019 ceremony will take place at a venue by the beach, part of the beautiful Swansea University Bay Campus.

Categories where judges will be looking for ‘best in class’ include Best Residence Life Initiative, Best Innovation in Catering, Business Team or Manager of the Year, Best Student Housing, Innovation in Student Experience, Commercial University of the Year and Business Partner of the Year.

Speaking of behalf of CUBO, non-executive director Julie Barker, former Chair of TUCO says: “CUBO Awards are instrumental in showcasing innovation across campus services which are now highly commercial and compete on many levels with the private business sector.

“And, we have some fantastic talent across campus services which has been key to driving greater value into the student experience in order to attract and retain those from the UK and overseas, whilst ensuring their wellbeing and happiness. This is on top of the increasing need to drive new revenue streams on sites, expanding on service offering using the resources that are unique to universities across the UK.

“The talent we have within the sector is worthy of recognition – whether our catering facilities, which compete and lead on the national stage, or growing revenue streams such as Conferencing, Sport and Leisure”.

Entries and nominations can be submitted at www.cubo.org.uk/awards. Deadline for entries is March 1st 2019.

Thursday, 14 February 2019 09:14

TUCO Sustainable Palm Oil Forum round-up

On Tuesday 5th February, suppliers and members gathered at TUCO HQ in Manchester to hear from key industry speakers about palm oil, covering topics such as; the oils and fats market, what palm oil is and why we use it, how to take part in a certified supply chain, and an NGO view on palm oil. 

Sustainability is a key focus for TUCO and we're working hard to ensure we're supporting the use of sustainable palm oil. The forum was a unique opportunity to ensure our members and suppliers are clued up on the latest movements in sustainable palm oil, and a key event to showcase the support we're offering in our members' journeys to sustainability. 

The insightful day was filmed and we're delighted to share the videos with you below. You can also view them on our YouTube channel here

We heard from:

Kevin McAlister, Customer Innovation Manager for AAK

Kevin has worked in the oils and fats industry for several major international manufacturers for 28 years in a variety of roles encompassing laboratory work, quality and food safety management systems and technical management, along with innovation. He has a broad knowledge of processing and modification techniques of oils and fats, along with their applications in food, feed and other non-food areas. Kevin currently works as a Customer Innovation Manager for AAK, a Global Oils and Fats manufacturer and one of the founding members of the RSPO. Hear from Kevin below:

Download Kevin's presentation here.

Jonathan Gorman, Tehnical Director at Efeca

Jonathan is an environmentalist and sustainability professional with many years’ experience leading the development and delivery of supply chain sustainability programmes within a global FMCG retailer across a range of areas including forest commodities (including soya, palm oil, Brazilian beef and wood and paper), marine sustainability (including seafood but also marine health issues such as ocean plastics) and other environmental areas including sustainable packaging

Since July 2017 Jonathan has been working for Efeca, a small natural resources consultancy, providing strategic and technical support on the sustainable sourcing of agricultural and forest commodities to the private and public sector

A core part of Jonathan’s work in the last year has been to help develop and establish the cross-industry UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya with funding provided through the UK government. Hear from Jonathan below:

Download Jonathan's presentation here.

Judith Murdoch

Judith has worked within the palm oil industry for more than 10 years. With previous experience in food service, marketing, communication and the food manufacturing sector, she has an in-depth knowledge in the field of sustainability and has led marketing and CSR functions at a global edible oils business level. Having worked for one of the founding members of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Judith has unrivalled experience, breadth and depth of knowledge of the sustainable palm oil supply chain.

Judith was instrumental in creating the forum. Hear from Judith below:

Download Judith's presentation here.

Michelle Desilets, Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust

Michelle has been working alongside Lone Droscher Nielsen in orangutan conservation for over 15 years. In 1994, Michelle took her first trip to Borneo, as a volunteer-tourist at the Tanjung Puting National Park. In the years that followed, she continued to visit Borneo as a volunteer for as long as 4 months at a time. In 1997, Michelle and fellow volunteer Lone, sought the advice of Dr Willie Smits to create a new project in Central Kalimantan to deal with the swelling numbers of orphaned orangutans. Dr Smits agreed to help, and with the financial backing of the Gibbon Foundation and Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Indonesia, the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project was born. It received its first dozen orangutans in 1999. Now the centre has over 600 orangutans in its care, and is regarded as perhaps the finest primate rehabilitation project in the world.

Michelle founded the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation UK to support the work of Lone as well as the other activities of BOS in Indonesia. As Executive Director of BOS UK, Michelle initiated a number of international campaigns to help orangutans, such as campaigns to end the illegal trade of orangutans and to repatriate known smuggled orangutans, as well as the campaign for sustainable palm oil. She now sits on several working groups in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

In 2005, Michelle gave up her career in education to devote her efforts full time to these campaigns, as well as the never-ending search for the funds needed to continue the efforts in the field. Hear from Michelle below:

Download Michelle's presentation here.

Andy Green, Responsibly Sourced Development Manager at Exova BM TRADA

Andy works extensively with clients and group offices on developing responsible sourcing platforms and meeting the growing number of sustainability targets. Predominantly focussing on the food, home, personal care and Animal Feed industries, Andy has been instrumental in supporting the uptake of certified sustainable palm oil through the RSPO certification scheme. He has been central to the development of Exova BM TRADA's Responsibly Sourced Scheme and is passionate about finding an effective route to demonstrate sustainability on a range of products, whilst limiting the resource costs of doing so. Andy remains committed to the aims of sustainablity standards, the benefits of independent certification and the need to ensure a harmonised approach to audit requirements. 

Hear from Andy below:

Download Andy's presentation here.

Catherine Barton, Field Conservation Manager Chester Zoo

Catherine joined Chester Zoo's Field Programmes team in 2008, her current role as Field Conservation Manager is heavily focused around managing partnerships with field projects in Borneo and Sumatra and engaging with stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain, from other NGOs to field partners and local businesses. She chairs the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European equivalent (EAZA) palm oil working group, working with zoos and other organisations nationally and internationally to find solutions to unsustainable palm oil.

Cat leads the Chester Zoo field programmes team's involvement in conservation campaigns, working closely with other departments on behaviour and social change initiatives including the Palm Oil Challenge campaign. Hear from Cat below:

Download Cat's presentation here.

Paula Martindale, Senior Operations Catering Manager at the University of Chester

Paula is the Senior Operations Catering Manager for Commercial Services at the University of Chester and since she started 21 years ago, she has seen a growing need to ensure that the service they provide reduces impact on the environment. As a result, the catering department continually reviews the ethical resourcing of products. Paula also has an interest sustainable palm oil through her son who has been researching the effects of deforestation in the Sumatran rainforest as part of his PHD thesis, he has been able to show her first hand the impact unsustainable palm oil production can have on the environment.
The University of Chester has collaborated with Chester Zoo who have been working on making Chester the first (unsustainable) Palm Oil free city. In June 2017, the university became a Palm Oil Champion through the project. This included auditing their supply chain and making changes to their own products produced in their onsite bakery. The catering service constantly reviews their activities to ensure environmental impact is reduced and to meet the sustainable mission statement of the university.

Download Paula's presentation here.

If you have any questions or ideas, or simply wish to get more involved, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Question and Answer session

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