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State of the Industry, Part 6

Sustainability & food waste concerns

Editor's note: Over the next few days, enjoy an 8-part series on disruptions that may affect your business in 2018 and beyond. They are:


Part 1: Natural Disasters and Disaster Relief

Part 2: Ownership & Planning for the Next Generation

Part 3: Millennial Weddings

Part 4: Corporate Catering

Part 5: Staffing Woes

Part 6: Sustainability & Food Waste Concerns

Part 7: Commodity vs Expertise

Part 8: Food Trends for 2018

Check back often for the next installment!


Sustainability & food waste concerns

Concern about sustainability and food waste is ever more apparent—even giant multinational companies are committing major resources to solving these problems. Tyson Foods’ Johnny Hughes, SVP of Foodservice Sales, for example, said, “we know continuous improvement in our company sustainability practices is simply the right thing for our company, operator customers, and the industry. It’s what drives us.”

But is sustainable…attainable? According to Bonnie Kravitz, Daniel et Daniel, Toronto, CA, it absolutely is. “As chefs, catering managers, event creators, sales people in this business, we have a responsibility to use our talents and our influence to push to be more sustainable every day.” Kravitz is so passionate about how “messed up and backward” our food systems are, she will present a session on this topic at Catersource in February. Go online to to get a full description.

Like Kravitz, chefs of all ilk are embracing a no waste, sustainability movement, from Dan Barber’s “Wasted” pop up restaurant in New York to Massimo Bottura during the Rio Olympics, to Anthony Bourdain’s new film, Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, and beyond. Or, look to chefs more apt to walk among us daily, such as The Wild Thyme Company’s Keith Lord, who launched the #nowastechef hashtag. This fellow is a passionate advocate who wields delicious crackers made from spent distillery mash and makes caramel from leftover whey.

At the New Orleans Convention Center, May 2017, Executive Chef Brandon Felder hosted a "Zero Waste Lunch" that included a menu of beet salad, Abita Amber BBQ shrimp, and Bananas Foster bread pudding, made with food that would otherwise have been discarded. Photo courtesy Ernest Morial Convention Center

Anticipate disruption: Consumers are being educated—and educating themselves—about how wasteful we have been as a culture. With over 30 to 40 percent of food produced going uneaten (the equivalent of filling 730 football stadiums with uneaten food every year) our clients are beginning to also understand that—beyond the actual food—labor, time, and natural resources are also being compromised. Advocacy groups are being formed throughout the world. This is an issue that absolutely cannot be disregarded. Embrace and explore ways that you can use food scraps, save water, use “ugly foods,” make a statement about how you no longer use plastic straws in your beverages, and take action. As chef Heather Carr said last year at Art of Catering Food, “How many of you might be thinking now that, ‘I’m not sure I can take something like this on’ or ‘My clientele will not go for something like this.’ All I can say is, you are probably wrong.”


Our series will conclude next week.

Click the logo for information about Catersource 2018!

Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Catersource, which includes print and digital content, as well as live education at both Catersource, the Art of Catering Food, and Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit.