The foodservice sector is NO poor relation when it comes to Health & Vitality initiatives

“THE FOODSERVICE sector isn’t the poor relation of grocery retail when it comes to health and vitality initiatives”!


This was the overwhelming message delivered by industry experts from across the hospitality industry who gathered at the Department of Health yesterday, to discuss innovations and investment across the sector, at the latest Health & Vitality Special Interest Group hosted by Footprint Forum.


Representatives from major contract caterers, high street operators and brands in distribution, manufacturing, supply and logistics shared best practice examples of key initiatives that were driving the health and vitality agenda in the industry. Case studies were presented by BPEX, Brakes, Pret A Manger, Leatherhead Food Research and Prestige Purchasing on such topics as salt reduction in high volume products and significantly reducing fat content.


The Group’s discussions centred on constraints on the wider industry in innovation and the lack of sector focus on targets that were typically easier for the retail sector to achieve.


One key failing, highlighted by the SIG’s delegates, was the lack of research from within the industry. Delegates pointed out that many of the numbers policy-makers currently use are actually out of date, and in turn this makes the censure the Government directs at the out of home market seem inaccurate and out of proportion.


Delegates went on to highlight that, especially as far as high street brands are concerned, communications need to be aimed at board level or decision makers. Data validating that the consumer is driving the health agenda as much as Government would lead to urgency to drive change.


Collaboration between industry and the Department of Health and means of engaging future chef’s in education were also discussed. It was commonly acknowledged to be an effective action to generate cultural change at grass-roots level.


Speaking at the event Charles Miers, Footprint’s Managing Director, said that despite the desire to further engage foodservice, the Government needs to better understand the intricacies and boundaries of the industry.


“Those working within the foodservice sector can give shining examples of best practice initiatives with regards to health and vitality – but the Department of Health isn’t aware of much of this work and this needs to change.


“DH presented figures that show how far the retail sector is outstripping the OOH market in reducing salt or calories, based on data which simply does not resonate and reflect a true status quo with foodservice industry leaders.


“The fear is, this could alienate foodservice companies who have invested considerable money into cleaning up products. It is clear that communication – or lack of it – has been a major factor in reaching the current position. Communication has a significant role to play in recognition as well as creating a lighthouse effect to engage more hospitality businesses either hiding their light under a bushel or that are less active.


“And, that is the reason we’re here today and the group is delighted by the traction we are achieving. A constructive two-way dialogue and progressive forward actions are being initiated through the Health and Vitality Special Interest Group discussions, and real progress is being driven towards consensus on targets and activity between the Department of Health and foodservice companies involved.


“Foodservice companies deserve recognition for their progress to date, and we are looking to further encourage and support best practice and seek greater collaboration with Government and stakeholders”


The Health and Vitality Special Interest Group meets with leading Department of Health officials 3 times a year, bringing together policy makers and industry decision makers to drive discussion on key nutrition and diet topics affecting the UK.


If you are interested in the work of the Special Interest Group or would like to join this growing group of forward sited businesses, please email