Sustainable Catering | Horizon Leeds

Sustainable Event Catering

Sustainability is back where it should be; at the top of the agenda for many venues, we thought there was no better time to sit down with our lovely caterers, Catering Yorkshire, to find out how they are leading the way in providing sustainable event catering.

With event catering, it is so easy to fall into a single-use plastic frenzy, especially post-Covid where hygiene and cross-contamination is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Hi Martin, great to chat to you! As we know even pre-covid sustainability was a hot topic in all areas of event services. Do you think this is still the case in the catering arena?

Most definitely. If anything, I think COVID-19 has accelerated the consumers’ demand for a more sustainable product, which is exactly what we have been pushing for a long time. A great example of this is around food waste. (Did you know that food production is responsible for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions; and food waste is responsible for 24% of that figure?!).

However hard you try a buffet will always have some element of food waste, well that is if customer satisfaction is fulfilled, and they are not left hungry. Even down to the garnish there is waste, and sadly no one can utilise it once it has been left out. However due to the demand for individual meals, waste has been taken out of the equation. The venue now only puts out enough food for the delegates who attend the event so any ‘spares’ can be repurposed. Individual meals save on cling film, fridge room, van space… the sustainability benefits are endless. The cleaners are also very happy as a role of bin liners last a lot longer!

That’s great news! So how do you ensure that individual meals aren’t heavy on unsustainable packaging?

All packaging is now 100% biodegradable, cardboard bento boxes, paper lunch bags, cakes wrapped in paper and wooden cutlery. Not only is it more sustainable and kinder on the environment, but it also looks fantastic! We have always loved a wooden board, but these are now key in our presentation as plastic platters are a thing of the past. Looking at how we reduce impact on the environment has also spilled into other elements of the company, for example we no longer have printed brochures or menus and old marketing activity such as leaflet drops are a thing of the past.

Fantastic! Our clients love the bento boxes, they look so smart and taste incredible, the falafel is one of my personal favourites! When looking at creating new menus, is sustainability at the forefront of your mind?

Oh definitely. A couple of years back, the focus was on our carbon footprint and ensuring we were shopping local, therefore using local produce was at the centre of our sustainability agenda. Although this is still important and something which we pride ourselves on, this is now seen as a given and instead the focus has moved towards reducing the carbon footprint in other ways, for example reducing meat intake and looking towards plant-base menus. We know that a plant-base diet isn’t for everyone, and the last thing we want to do is alienate anyone, however making small changes through plant-based substitutes can have a big impact on the environment and as more individuals choose this lifestyle, it’s an added incentive to cater for them in a creative way.

That’s really interesting and it’s clear that you’re really passionate about becoming a sustainable caterer. So, what’s next on the horizon?

Education is key when it comes to making a difference for the environment. We’re working with our clients, whether that’s a venue such as Horizon or one of our B2C operations, making sure that sustainability is at the centre of all decisions made. We are there to advise our clients on how they can make their offering more sustainable and attractive to future customers.

We also have some exciting long-term goals we are exploring too; the dream is to replace all our vehicles to be electric powered! We were exploring this prior to Covid, and we are really excited about this change.

Thank you so much for sitting down with me and talking about how you’re taking steps to ensure our catering is sustainable. It’s such an important topic and now, more than ever, feels vital for all venues to commit to sustainable practices. For us, it’s great to know that one of our key suppliers is as passionate about making these changes as we are.