Food made good for our future: a call to action from the SRA

Released by the IPCC in March this year, the Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report provides a bleak inventory of the damage done to date and still to come. With temperatures already at 1.1˚C above pre-industrial levels, every part of the world is experiencing the consequences. The impact of this is felt disproportionately by the most vulnerable ecosystems and communities.

We’re at a crossroads. Ripple effects from the choices we make in this moment will be felt across generations. To stand any chance of meeting climate targets, immediate, radical and sustained change is needed across all sectors, within this decade. If you’re a decision-maker in the hospitality industry, consider this your call to action.

The impact of global hospitality

Many people are unaware of the enormous environmental impact of the hospitality industry. However:

• 26% of the 931 million tonnes of food wasted every year comes from foodservice

• The hospitality industry needs to cut emissions by 66% by 2030, and 90% by 2050 (compared to 2010) to ensure that growth in the sector does not mean a growth in carbon emissions. Even more is required to limit warming to 1.5oC

• Food production demands an enormous volume of water, with animal-based foods the worst culprits. 

Why hospitality needs to lead the charge

As underlined by The WWF, diets are not just a matter of personal preference. Consumer food choices are heavily influenced by “what is available, affordable and accessible, and how it is marketed,” placing the responsibility squarely at the feet of governments, policy-makers and industry; this is backed by new advice from SAPEA, which emphasises that consumers cannot be the drivers of the widespread change in diets we so sorely need.

We will not meet our climate targets without changing how we eat – and this will not happen if we expect individuals alone to make the change. With people eating out in record numbers (8), our menus need a serious rethink.

Food for thought

It’s clear that the hospitality industry has a vital role to play. We have the power to change how the customer thinks about food and, ultimately, orders and eats. We can wield this power to help fix the food system and ensure that good food – good on every level – is available and accessible for everyone.

The good news is that prioritising sustainability brings real benefits, from improved recruitment and marketing capabilities through to daily reductions in operating costs. A holistic approach is crucial, including:

• Sourcing (cultivating a clean supply chain; high-welfare, sustainable sourcing of meat and fish; fair compensation for producers; prioritising provenance and incorporating more plant foods)

• Social (treating employees, suppliers, customers and communities with respect, fairness and care)

• Environment (reductions in carbon, energy and water footprints, minimising waste overall and making food waste a thing of the past)

Better today than yesterday

Making this commitment requires integrity. Greenwashing isn’t cutting it any longer; customers are highly aware of a gap between stated goals and implementation, and satisfaction levels drop considerably where this sort of hypocrisy is perceived.

Restaurants must be as transparent as possible about where they are on their journey. This is a complex process, and nobody is getting every part of it right from the get-go. We don’t have time for perfectionism. All that any of us can do is to commit to consistent and measurable improvement: to be better today than we were yesterday, and to work towards being even better tomorrow.

Across the industry, around the globe, we need concrete and transparent action, and we need it now. Will you join us on our mission to make the hospitality industry a sustainable space?

Make the commitment. We’re running out of time.

The new, improved and globally available Food Made Good Standard is the most recognised sustainability accreditation for the hospitality industry worldwide, and is a practical and valuable first step on your journey. Learn more about the Standard at

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