Arena Event

Sustainability – Leading the Way in Hospitality and Foodservice

100 Liverpool Street played host to another 'sold out'  Arena event - an engaging and informative day, exploring how businesses and individuals are making a difference to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) in foodservice and hospitality and its supply chain, and how they are implementing change and leading the way in sustainable ways of operating to build a better world. 

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Attendee List


Take a look at the attendee list for this event.

Event Review

by Ed Whitehead, Director of Corporate and Reputation, Fleet Street

With the pressure of inflation and the cost-of-living crisis on everyone’s mind, consumers are re-evaluating the way they spend their money and are more aware than ever of the impact the brands they use have on the world around them, so this timely event provided plenty of food for thought for everybody in attendance. 

On arrival at Revolve Brasserie, guests were able to network while enjoying refreshments, provided by Délifrance, Nestlé Professional and Britvic Soft Drinks before heading to the adjacent Storey Club where they were welcomed by Andrew Fishwick, Chair of Adamo Hospitality.

Andrew created Revolve restaurant as part of a joint venture with British Land, for whom 100 Liverpool Street marks their first net zero building – the perfect site for this event.

Andrew’s introductory address set the tone for an event focused not just on knowing what better looks like, but on continuing to raise the bar. He urged businesses to aim not just for sustainability, but regeneration, to make sure they give back to their people, and to strive to inspire behaviour change from their consumers. 

A panel of experts

Following Andrew’s welcome, it was time for the panel discussion, superbly hosted by Bob Gordon, Director at Zero Carbon Forum, and featuring senior leaders and sector experts, Mike Hanson, Director of Sustainable Business, WSH; Shereen Ritchie, Former UK Managing Director, LEON; Will Beckett, Founder and CEO, Hawksmoor; Pete Statham, Head of Sustainability & Government Relations, Sysco GB; Dr Laura Kirwan, Sustainability Lead, Nutritics, and Philip Rayner, Owner, Glebe Farm Foods.

Our panel begun by talking about their sustainability journeys, with Mike explaining how sustainability had gone from an add-on to his operational role to his full-time job, Philip discussing his scientific background which eventually led him back to his family farm, and Will sharing his initial vision for Hawksmoor to ‘do business the right way’.

Engaging your teams

A key theme running throughout the discussion was the heightened importance of Purpose for team members. Shereen, an ex-MD at Leon, described looking after people and giving back as a “Super Power,” and believes that teams in businesses where she has worked, predominantly under 30, really care. Will seconded this, joking that while “nobody has ever asked me for a Rib Eye with purpose, it’s very important to our people,” while Mike referenced research which found that some people would accept significantly lower salaries to work for a company they believe in.  

Pete talked about the work that Brakes was doing with its customers to help chef teams understand how their menu planning can reduce carbon footprints, and Laura shared similar insights from Nutritics’ involvement with the Climate Smart Chef project, an EU initiative to involve European chefs as promoters of low emission, nutritious and affordable diets, explaining how  by using Nutritics’ new environmental impact scoring system, Foodprint, chefs were able to better understand how they could create dishes with a lower carbon footprint, water usage or food waste score, and have a lower overall environmental impact. 

Mike advocated the need to engage everybody, and stressed the importance of improving carbon literacy amongst your team to drive behaviour change there. His view is that people are more aware than ever are looking for learning, so sustainability professionals need to “get out of the echo chamber and talk to people who don’t get it.” Individual actions like switching off a light or turning down the thermostat can have massive overall impacts, so it’s important not to lose sight of what might initially seem to be basic information sharing and education. 

Despite the economic climate, sustainability is ‘pushing against an open door’ 

With food inflation and energy bills impacting operators’ margins and consumers’ disposable income, you could be forgiven for worrying that the current economic climate may hamper progress. However, responses from the panel were largely positive. Mike pointed out that the last financial crash had actually led to an increase in sustainability-focused initiatives, and he explained that new reporting requirements, coupled with the incentives being offered by lenders for businesses meeting certain environmental criteria, meant that sustainability was ‘pushing against an open door’ in the boardroom. This was a view shared by Pete, who added that dual pressure from Sysco’s customers and investors meant that the increased focus on sustainability was filtering throughout the entire business. 

Will advocated rearticulating the relationship between sustainability and money. “Forget the cost, think about how it can be profitable,” was his advice, explaining that it’s not just about making an ethical case, but about identifying how it can help you grow faster and potentially secure more investment. 

Playing devil’s advocate, Shereen posited that sustainability shouldn’t be a competitive advantage. She argued that all businesses want to have a positive impact, but for some, investing in sustainability initiatives may not have as immediate an impact as increasing pay. She also highlighted the importance of education, pointing to a time when she removed all palm oil from the supply chain at LEON, only to later learn that the more positive environmental step would have been to source sustainable palm oil. 

This led the panel naturally to the next topic, around how the sector can get good, credible data that allows us to make good decisions and move in the same direction.
For Laura, the answer is clear – if you’re going to make commitments and report against those commitments, you first need a benchmark. And that needs to be based in science and evidence, something that’s peer-reviewed and stands up to audit. It’s much easier, after all, to defend a decision that’s based on facts. 

Both Mike and Pete, who partner with Nutritics to understand their environmental impact, were in agreement. With their food supply chain accounting for 80-90% of their carbon footprint, they understand the importance of addressing food in order to achieve their respective Net Zero strategies. With data, says Mike, you can understand your hotspots, and target your efforts, rather than taking a scattergun approach or choosing an area of focus because of a certain narrative. 

Engaging with consumers

There were mixed opinions on how to engage with consumers, and the cut-through that sustainability stories had. The panel returned to Andrew’s comment about behaviour change, and discussed the opportunities to educate consumers. At WSH, Mike’s team is rolling out Nutritics’ Foodprint to add an environmental impact label at point of sale, helping consumers to make informed choices. 
Philip, who has experience from a retail and foodservice perspective with his PureOaty drink, believes that the opportunity to educate consumers is greater in foodservice, with more touch points and longer time to engage, compared to retail where you have limited space to print information onto your packaging. 

Shereen felt that a ‘loud minority’ of consumers really care about sustainability, but that sustainability is becoming the norm for more consumers, with hybrid diets becoming increasingly common across all age groups. 

From Will, there was an acknowledgement that sustainability doesn’t feature high on the list of reasons people visit Hawksmoor. His belief is that consumers want to know that you’ve done good things and trust you, but don’t need to hear all the detail – which is why the company’s B-Corp certification in 2022 was so important, since it provided a recognised, third-party endorsement of all the stories Hawksmoor tells about itself. Having narrowly scraped the notoriously difficult-to-achieve B-Corp status, Will says it also acts as a catalyst for continual improvement. “It helps us understand what better looks like and how we can get there. Part of the recertification process is that we have to get better over 3 years. Once you’re in, there’s a reputational risk of not being in anymore.” 

What does the future hold? 

The panel then discussed the future of sustainability, before providing their final words of advice to the audience. Laura warned that more mandatory reporting is coming, in addition to minimum standards set to be introduced relating to food waste. Pete agreed, saying that regulation will push up standards across the board, and also envisaged a near future where all Brakes delivery trucks run on renewable fuels. The way we engage with suppliers will also change, said Mike – with greater data and better awareness of the environmental impact of food will come more supplier engagement and better collaboration. Phil echoed this, urging operators to work with their suppliers to make sure products are meeting their sustainability objectives. 

To close, Laura and Mike both advocated learning more about The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as they provide a perfect framework to understand where a business is now, and where they can go, while Pete advised anybody feeling overwhelmed by the SDGs to try and be selective and prioritise a few areas of focus. Shereen urged businesses to do as much as they realistically can, saying “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.” 

But for anybody looking for just one key takeaway from the panel, Will provided a crystal clear insight into Hawksmoor’s enlightened approach to responsibility. "You can do it early and get credit, or do it late and get none. But either way you’re going to do it.” 


On returning to Revolve, guests enjoyed Tosti Prosecco and a range of soft drinks from Britvic Soft Drinks accompanied by focaccia bite canapés courtesy of Délifrance,  before tucking in to a delicious three course meal with accompanying mini handcrafted rolls from Délifrance then after Dessert, guests enjoyed coffee courtesy of Nestlé Professional. Lunch was accompanied by a selection of low-carbon wines provided by Unity Wines and even a wine quiz conducted by Unity Wines so guests could get their ‘thinking caps’ on during lunch!

Menus were marked up with Foodprint labels courtesy of Nutritics, showing not only the carbon footprint, but also the water usage, of each course – providing a fascinating snapshot into how operators and foodservice providers like WSH are helping to inform and educate consumers about environmental impact of their out of home choices. 

With the event drawing to a close, delegates made their way from Revolve having rekindled old relationships and made new connections, with much to take stock of from a fascinating panel discussion. Until next time!

Thank you to Ed Whitehead, Director of Corporate and Reputation, Fleet Street for this event review.