Contract caterer, Vacherin, joined a variety of retailers, restauranteurs, caterers, manufacturers, growers, broadcasters and government representatives at the annual Vegetable Summit in London last month, with a view to shifting the country’s food system to make it easier for everyone to eat more vegetables.
The event is all about pledging bold action. With this in mind, Vacherin, with Director of Food Dan Kelly as its envoy, took the unprecedented step this year to challenge those operating in the foodservice industry to forget competing and instead unite.
Kelly called for other contract caterers to support Vacherin’s work on its ‘I’mPerfect’ campaign – an idea launched in 2014 as a result of working closely with suppliers to source imperfect and less aesthetically-pleasing fruit and vegetables for its chefs. The initiative also focuses on sourcing the unnecessarily surplus fruit and vegetables from British farmers, with an aim of giving them more financial support, away from the control of the larger supermarket chains.
Vacherin’s mission is to encourage changes to individual procurement strategies across the sector. Not only to bring cosmetically imperfect fruit and vegetables into their contracts by way of food offerings and menus, but also the completely unused ingredients that don’t even make it past farm gates or into the food production system.
With the increase in vegetarian, vegan and “flexitarian” diets, and the known health and environmental benefits of eating more fruit and vegetables, Vacherin believes customers should have the ability to easily incorporate vegetables into their daily régime. The uplift in vegetable-based diets is already being supported by suppliers as they are looking at ways to help make this even more of a reality. However, Vacherin believes the whole industry should consider the impact that growing and producing extra vegetables will have on the planet.
Kelly questions: “Why are we asking for more produce, at greater costs to both our pockets and the environment, when perfectly good vegetables are already there and just not being made available?
“Vacherin made a conscious decision years ago to look at our procurement strategy to allow imperfect ingredients into the food system. We’ve had to overcome many obstacles along the way, but we know that by working together with others in the industry, we can make a substantial difference, not least ensuring that affordable fruit and vegetables remain available for future generations, without further impacting the planet unnecessarily.”
Vacherin now aims to create a committee made up of senior food figures within the foodservice sector to work at making the pledge strategically and logistically possible.