29 October 2021

Eco-Friendly Corporate Catering will safeguard the future of the industry

With climate change quickly becoming one of the most important issues of the twenty-first century, coming up with innovative solutions will continue to set agendas of governments and businesses alike for years to come. Whilst there is much that has and will continue to be done by those in positions of power, the importance of individual choice is one that has been given much consideration - particularly in relation to the environmental impact of our diets.

In order to keep pace with a rapidly-evolving set of circumstances, the hospitality industry must respond to the continuation - and in some cases, the acceleration – of existing trends that were already underway prior to the pandemic. The rise of plant-forward diets, for example, is a social phenomenon that will play an important role in securing the future of the industry going forward. Applying a modern approach to corporate catering is crucial, not only to reflect the changing habits and attitudes of diners but to ensure that sustainable choices are accessible at business meetings and conferences.

When it comes to sustainability, treating consumers with respect is essential, which is why greater transparency is needed across the industry to ensure that diners are provided with the information required to make responsible decisions that are right for them and the planet. Our recent launch of the Mindful Meetings menu system marks the latest industry innovation that gives consumers the opportunity to take control of their personal environmental impact. Designed in partnership with Oxford University, this system includes LEAP eco-labelling, a colour - and letter- coded accompaniment to every dish on the menu which provides diners with clear and concise rankings of their respective environmental impacts. With the scoring system accounting for factors such as greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, pollution, and biodiversity loss, eco-labelling equips diners with easily digestible information, empowering them to make planet-friendly decisions whilst attending business meetings. The individual choice narrative is one that only works when consumers are given agency to make their own choices - the industry must therefore work harder to equip their customers with knowledge and treat their decisions and preferences with respect.

Sustainability works best when it’s considered within the wider context of seasonality and local provenance. What this means in practice is that menus will likely need to be consolidated around more locally sourced produce that hasn’t been transported thousands of miles from farm to fork. By committing to using 80% British-grown ingredients, Levy is able to use fresh, seasonal produce to create delicious dishes with lower carbon footprints. Just as consumers are encouraged to shop locally and support small business, the hospitality industry must lead by example by forging closer relationships with local manufacturers and suppliers. Such investment within local communities will enable firms to drive up food safety and welfare standards and ensure a fair price point for everyone, all whilst promoting the power of home-grown produce, which will pave the way for the creation of delicious and eco-friendly corporate dining experiences. Greater industry-wide collaboration will play an essential role in making information and options more readily available, as well as helping businesses meet demanding environmental targets – the launch of Lime Venue Portfolio’s Meetings for Change initiative, which commits to the use of seasonal British produce, a plant-forward philosophy, and ethical sourcing, highlights the type of innovation which will safeguard the industry and the planet going forward.

While it is essential that eco-friendly dining does not compromise on taste, it is equally important for the hospitality industry to meet the ever-growing demands of businesses. Designing experiences that benefit customers, as well as the environment, will therefore be crucial going forward. The creation of dishes that prevent the post-lunch slump (by expertly balancing protein-to-carbohydrate ratios and using ingredients that promote cognitive function) and the implementation of water stations to promote hydration at every stage of the working day highlight just a few of the steps that we are taking to ensure that we satisfy the needs of businesses while protecting the planet.

In many ways, these developments are indicative of a gradual transformation that is taking place within corporate catering, and the hospitality industry more generally. Although there is much to consider in terms of safeguarding the future of the industry, creating and setting an agenda that is centered around increasing the availability of sustainable options, making information more accessible to consumers, and championing local produce will ultimately pave the way for a much-needed eco revolution.