We, the food industry, talk a lot about sustainability. And as an industry we have an undeniable influence over the future of food: where our industry goes, diners, farmers, businesses and even governments follow.
But, whilst we might talk about the growth of plant-based, sustainable sourcing and waste reduction, are they actually turning enough of this talk into action?
Whilst the global population - and with it the food industry - is growing steadily, so is the demand for agricultural raw materials. In order to be able to ensure supply for the future, we must endeavour to permanently procure sustainable raw materials.
Chefs can play a key role in supporting better food practices from farm to fork by choosing ingredients grown with respect for the earth and its oceans. Through getting to know where ingredients are grown, reared or sourced, chefs can ensure they are choosing ingredients with the lowest impact on the environment. Equally, producers and suppliers should share a chef's values in respect to sustainable sourcing, enabling our industry to lead by example by championing sustainable ingredients.
Creating menus which make the most of seasonal and local produce is also key. Doing so not only reduces the number of intermediaries between the chef and the farmer, but also helps to show people where their food comes from by championing farmers and connecting them to diners.
As an industry, we can help the rest of the population to value the world's natural resources. This also includes reducing food waste, which in the UK costs our industry £2.5 billion each year. Around 920,000 tonnes of food - equivalent to 1.3 billion meals - is thrown away annually, despite the fact that three-quarters of it could have been eaten. Chefs such as Tredwells Chantelle Nicholson are leading the way with multiple waste-management strategies, such as daily supplier deliveries to minimise spoilage and encouraging diners to take 'left-overs' home with them. Tredwells even have a farmer collect their food waste directly, which is ten mulched and used to grow produce for the restaurant in a small garden plot.
Chefs really are at the heart of the global food system. For sustainable sourcing accross our indsutry and beyond to truly be achieved, we must all do our part. In leading by example, including educating and training the chefs of tomorrow on how to build sustainable menus, chefs can change the way the world thinks and talks about food across kitchens, classrooms and communities. This is why we have worked with WWF to create the Future 50 Foods Report, providing inspiration and information on the most sustainable produce to use and how to use them.
At Knorr Professional, we're proud to be part of Unilever Food Solutions, the dedicated foodservice business of Unilever. A world leader in sustainability through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, our goal is to source 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably by the end of 2020 and by 2025 make all of our plastic reusable, recyclable or compostable. Find out more about the Unilever Sustainabile Living Plan here.