Members of beacon, the UK hospitality industry`s largest purchasing consortium, responded to a comprehensive questionnaire seeking views on such areas as local produce, free range
Members of beacon, the UK hospitality industry`s largest purchasing
consortium, responded to a comprehensive questionnaire seeking views on
such areas as local produce, free range and organic foods, green issues
and the health of a nation.
Some of the findings mirror the
concerns of the buying public in economically uncertain times. Recent
press reports have highlighted a reduction in consumer spending on
organic food, Nearly half of beacon survey respondents claimed they
experienced no consumer demand for organic or free-range produce,
although 50% said they consistently use free-range or organic
ingredients in their recipes. Cost is a huge driver, with 92% stating
that they would use these ingredients if they were cheaper.
significant percentage of consumers are focusing on local produce, with
over 50% of customers now requesting it, although there is scepticism
regarding supplier claims about local products. Moreover, there is
discrepancy about what the term `local` means. Nearly three quarters of
businesses believe that local means within a 20-mile radius, whereas
other groups habour different definitions - many suppliers would refer
to regional or even national products as local.
Chris Durant, Director of beacon, said, "This
raises a challenge for suppliers: how to meet a practical demand for
local products at competitive prices, and within a framework of what
`local` means. The reality is that businesses are not going to get
everything they need from within a 20-mile radius or at a price they
want to pay. However, our suppliers have taken leaps forward in this
area over the past couple of years and i believe we are moving towards
a greater consensus on what the standard and definition of `local`
With regards to environmental issues, an amazing
99% of companies have introduced one or more energy saving or recycling
initiatives, with 44% of respondents now using low-energy light bulbs.
However, only a little less than a third of businesses are currently
recycling, with lack of outside storage facilities and/or the lack of
local recycling services cited as their biggest challenges.
energy still has a long way to go. Less than 2% of respondents
currently use alternative energy sources such as bio-mass boilers,
geothermal energy, wind and solar power.
Businesses were also
asked to comment on the `health of the nation`. Four in five of
respondents believe they do not have a responsibility to offer
customers a healthy option, and 64% have adopted the principles of
healthy eating in their menu planning including lower fat/sugar/salt,
more vegetarian options and using only `healthy` fats and low sodium.
More than half (60%) of businesses now believe their customers are more
concerned with healthier food, with 48% citing fat content as their
customers` biggest concern.
However, businesses gave an emphatic
(88%) thumbs down to the imposition of a government `traffic light`
coding system on menus. A major concern was the impracticality of its
introduction, alongside the desire to avoid `nannying` customers and
overcomplicating the look of menus.