An innocent smoothie with David Bentley

THE FCSI’s chair has been keen to forge closer links with other foodservice and associated trade associations to help tackle an issue that his members say some caterers still aren’t taking seriously enough – sustainability.

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David Burrows (DB): Good morning David. First things first, do you have a middle initial? No need to divulge the name, it’s just that we have the same initials.


David Bentley (DJB): I do, it’s J.


DB: Great. So, what have you been up to recently as chair of the Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI)?


DJB: One of my big achievements in the past couple of years has been forging closer relationships with other industry groups we already work with. We were all working towards the same goals on aspects such as sustainability but were wasting our efforts by not working together.


DB: How is it going?


DJB: There are projects starting to emerge that will make a real difference to the industry. One of those is the equipment lifecycle carbon calculator. It’s at the proof-of-concept stage, but we’re confident that the modelling is robust and that, in time, we’ll be able move from generic equipment to specific models and brands.


DB: Will it encourage caterers or their clients to spend more on efficient equipment? After all, a survey you did last year found that 43% of your members felt their clients were not taking sustainability seriously?


DJB: For years, consultants and equipment manufacturers have known that if you buy a lesser product, it won’t last long and it’s likely to cost you more in energy and maintenance in the long run. The calculator will demonstrate to caterers and clients what they’re getting in terms of energy reductions, emissions cuts and longevity versus their return on investment. It will allow them to balance their aspirations and values with economics. It’s not about taking sustainability more seriously; it’s about having the science and information to make considered choices. That doesn’t just apply to equipment, though…


DB: Are you referring to behaviour change?


DJB: Yes, absolutely. Training is an area everyone will need to embrace. Some manufacturers are already offering more contemporary training – via DVDs, YouTube clips and QR codes – on how to use their equipment properly. That will continue to evolve. But operators also need structured training programmes – both new and refreshers – that can drive big savings from simple operational changes. For example, a dishwasher doesn’t take two hours to heat up, so why switch it on at breakfast when it won’t be used until just before lunch?


DB: I suppose it’s a little like cars: youcan have the most efficient model but if you drive it like Lewis Hamilton then you won’t save much fuel.


DJB: Exactly. And as you would with a car, you need to maintain and service it regularly to prolong its working life, avoid unexpected breakdowns, and in order to get the best out of its energy performance – something that may have been the deciding factor for the purchase in the first place.


DB: So,with all these cost savings,will catering become a more streamlined sector?


DJB: In terms of sustainability initiatives, yes I think so. We have to remember that many caterers are working on clients’ sites, using clients’ energy and utilities. We see this changing. Clients are already asking caterers to help them achieve their corporate responsibility goals; in time, we expect them to put the onus more firmly on their caterers and charge them for the utilities they use. The challenge with that is some sites won’t have had the investment required – so that’s where innovative tools like the carbon calculator will be invaluable.


David Bentley steps down as FCSI chair in June. He is also director at catering consultancy The Russell Partnership and was named in the “top 10 most influential individuals in catering” this year.