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Catering equipment industry 'to focus on sustainability'

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Sustainability is likely to give restaurants and catering operations a major boost over the coming years as the tools they use become greener, and energy-saving measures are installed across many kitchens, according to a new report from the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA).

These changes are likely to occur rapidly over the next three years as attitudes in the industry mirror those in society at large and become increasingly concerned about reducing carbon footprints as much as possible.

With fear over global warming on the up and the government pledging to reduce the UK's carbon emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050, green issues look likely to take on a central role in many sectors.

This certainly looks to be true of the catering equipment industry, with Refrigeration and Air Conditioning magazine reporting CESA figures that show 33 per cent of businesses feel the drive towards increased sustainability will create opportunities for their firm.

CESA chair Nick Oryino hailed the "positive attitude" of many of the respondents but suggested that "divisions" exist within the sector.

"For example, asked what impact sustainability will have on their business, seven per cent of delegates said it will reduce their profits and one per cent said it will increase theirs," he added.

Some 39 per cent suggested that the need to produce a greener business model will encourage innovation within the sector, while just over four-fifths predicted that sustainability will be a central part of their firm's expansion in the coming years.

However, there are some problems facing the move towards sustainable kitchen equipment, despite the obvious enthusiasm of many businesses for producing greener options for their clients.

Product substitution - when an energy-saving device is used for a particular task then replaced with a cheaper but more inefficient option afterwards - was cited as a major issue by 70 per cent of respondents.

Several solutions were suggested - while the concept of government incentives was mentioned, there was more support for a system that emphasises potential life-time savings or compares the costs of different machines.

This was reflected in comments made recently Laura Kirk, marketing manager for fridge manufacturer Forster, who told Catering Insight: "The catering industry should demand to see more independent testing of products right across its equipment and supply base, with a view to bringing the decision-making process far more into line with other sectors."

Given the efforts being made by the restaurant industry to reduce its overall carbon footprint in the UK, it seems clear that such measures would be largely supported by the hospitality world as well as the catering equipment sector itself.

With the government ready to place more pressure on businesses to conform to its green agenda, it seems clear measures such as independent testing will be considered further in the near future.

Over half of the respondents to CESA's survey agreed that regulatory verifications of costs, savings and benefits would be a positive move for the industry to make - whether it does so is yet to be seen.ADNFCR-16001031-ID-801503959-ADNFCR

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