Certified - Sustainable Food

Certified - Sustainable Food

by Anthony Kingsley, Sustainability and CSR Lead at Vacherin
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Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 10:20am

CAMPAIGN: CBRE Environmental Sustainability


Today it is estimated that more antibiotics are used on livestock than on humans, over 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the agriculture industry (more than all transportation), and in London we throw out enough food waste every year to fill the Royal Albert Hall over 30 times.

That might be a lot to take in. But do not worry, there is hope.

In recent years we have seen the rise of environmentally and socially responsible food certifications on consumer products, also known as, ‘eco-labels’, one of the most well-known being Fairtrade. Whilst there is much discussion as to the overall impact of some of these eco-labels, they are certainly a step in the right direction.

The fact of the matter is everyone has busy lives, with families, friends, events, pubs, football, etc. And even though consumers are concerned about climate change, where their coffee comes from, or how much food is ending up in landfills, it can be difficult to make ‘sustainable’ decisions on the go. There is simply not enough time in a day to research every single purchase to discover the most environmentally and socially responsible brands. So eco-labels have been designed to fill that gap.

Lately there has also been a rise in overarching certifications, which not only assess restaurants and facilities on their ingredient purchasing, but on their overall impact of production and operations.

Earlier this year the staff restaurant and hospitality catering at CBRE Henrietta House in London, operated by Vacherin, received the highest rating of ‘3 stars’ champion from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). Recently launching a consumer facing brand ‘Food Made Good’, the SRA is a non-profit organisation encouraging the foodservice industry in the UK to become more sustainable. Offering independent certification services focused on their 3 pillar approach of Sourcing, the Environment and Society. The SRA now has over 5,000 members.

Consumers use eco-labels to guide their purchases, and not just because they care about the environment, but because they are increasingly concerned for their own well-being. Research suggests that nearly 73% of adult consumers purchase organic labelled food for health and nutrition reasons, even with the price premium. This represents a clear trend by consumers who are beginning to ask ‘why is this product cheaper?’ and not ‘why is it more expensive?’

Eco-labels have become easily identifiable indicators which allow consumers to choose foods which take into account animal welfare and food quality, or highlight that they do not contain antibiotics, processed sugars or additives. Put bluntly, consumers want products to contain what the label states, and not be filled with 30% high fructose corn syrup.

Whether the product, or business, is SRA certified, Fairtrade, ISOs, DNV, Organic, or Free Range, they all reflect positive progress for the food industry. Consumers are sending popular brands a message that they do care about the impact on climate change, the community and their own health. After all, I want my kids and grandkids to experience all the delicious and healthy foods I’ve grown up with – I hope I never have to explain to them what a perfectly prepared salmon fillet tasted like.

To learn a bit more from the experts, come join our London event: Food Sustainability for FMs: Act, Collaborate, Communicate on 14 October at CBRE Henrietta House.