How to improve supply chain sustainability
The latest Academy seminar focused on business impact beyond the plate.
Chefs and restaurateurs can improve their sustainability footprint by engaging more readily with suppliers, according to the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Louisa Dodd.
In the latest Academy seminar, entitled Beyond the Plate: Supply Chain Sustainability, Dodd outlined several metrics of sustainability and explained the upstream and downstream impact of the food and hospitality industry.
“Every ingredient has the opportunity to have a social and environmental impact, both positive and sometimes negative,” she said.
While more and more restaurants are setting carbon targets and minimising food waste, Dodd said that around 70% of a restaurant’s footprint is attributed to supply chain operations.
“The majority of your carbon footprint will be sitting upstream — i.e. in the hands of your suppliers — because there is so much carbon that occurs in agriculture,” she explained.
In order to have a positive impact, she encouraged members to regularly engage with suppliers and waste contractors, and provided a number of practical tips. These included prioritising plant-based dishes, setting menu diversity targets to promote biodiversity, and ensuring commodities sourced from developing nations are certified.
And when it comes to tackling food waste, Dodd said simple actions like clearly labelled bins and regular audits can go a long way.
“Sustainability can be complex, but it’s not just your responsibility,” she said to members. “It’s about having that conversation with your suppliers because there are many other people and operations and businesses that feed into your overall business impact.”
The Sustainable Restaurant Association’s Food Made Good initiative also offers a free self-assessment tool to help chefs and restaurateurs take the first steps towards improving the impact of their business operations.
After a presentation, Dodd was available to answer members’ questions, which included whether perfectionism around Michelin-starred cuisine needs to be re-examined. She also discussed how to encourage sustainable practices across the entire restaurant team and how to understand and capitalise on the economic benefits of sustainability.
The seminar was the second in a dedicated series with the Sustainable Restaurant Association, and followed a previous session where Dodd introduced sustainability in foodservice. This partnership with the Sustainable Restaurant Association supports the Academy’s goal of empowering the next generation of culinary talent and providing future growth opportunities through a program of opportunity and learning.
The educational program is available exclusively to members in the Academy’s private Facebook group and in a reserved area of the website.
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