Food and Beverage Network: Sustainable
On the 24th July, leading city centre management company CityCo hosted a wide-ranging, engaging event focussed on the discussion around sustainability in the food and beverage industry. Feeding a fast paced, cosmopolitan city like Manchester requires huge quantities of energy and produces vast amounts of waste.
The event was hosted by Tony Naylor, a prominent Manchester-based journalist published in the Guardian, BBC Good Food and Restaurant Magazine. The food and beverage sector face steep challenges to reach the ambitious zero-carbon, zero-plastic targets the industry has set. Naylor chaired a lively panel discussion, with questions varying between immediate problems such as food waste and plastic packaging to more far-reaching topics of ingredient transportation and plant-based diets.
The panel consisted Roger Khoryati, the Managing Director for McDonalds Manchester Ltd, Liam Bergin, Head of Catering at the University of Manchester and Victoria Moorhouse, Head of Sustainability from Costa Coffee.
Speakers highlighted a number of successes and challenges faced when considering sustainability within their business. Liam highlighted the recent demand of vegetarian and vegan products within the University of Manchester and customer pressure to choose suppliers who reflect the sustainable agenda. In terms of issues, he highlighted the limits that a contractual agreement with a certain supplier can pose to a business looking to switch to more sustainable suppliers, along with the increased cost that comes with this choice often scaring most businesses out of making the change. “Price is always the biggest factor in a consumer’s choice. Balancing sustainability with costs is often very difficult”, he concluded.
Roger offered a slightly more optimistic review of the McDonald’s recycling policy. Despite the 10% of customers who dispose of their waste into the wrong bins, staff are encouraged to ensure that the waste is recycled correctly. He also mentioned that the amount of packaging used to serve the products had reduced over the past 10 years, saving on resources at source.
Victoria explained how Costa Coffee work with Fareshare to distribute left over food products to avoid landfill waste as well as supporting numerous charitable organisations. Victoria also commended Costa’s achievement of being the first major chain to source all of its coffee from Rainforest Alliance standard suppliers: “coffee has a big impact on some of the world’s equatorial rainforests, a huge climate change contributor.”
The event ended with a chance to ask questions and network. Whilst Manchester’s food and drink sector has a long way to go to achieve its goal of becoming completely sustainable, CityCo’s event was a fantastic way to inspire many smaller or independent businesses to make changes for the better.
Photo credit: CityCo and Simon Pendrigh - PeakPix