Foodservice Footprint sheep THE FRIDAY DIGEST: Sodexo shines with simple scope 3 message Foodservice News and Information  news-story-top news-email-top

THE FRIDAY DIGEST: Sodexo shines with simple scope 3 message

What a feast for you this week as we look at on-farm carbon counts, plant-pork sausages for hospital patients, stumbling scope 3 disclosures and sustainable catering for sprinters at this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics.

But first up is Sodexo, which this week bucked the years-old trend for corporates to produce crap videos about their climate plans. The catering firm’s effort is simple, and wonderfully so. There is no Mother Earth, no sombre-looking CEO, no elaborate graphics or AI tricks; and crucially the term “systemic change” – usually mentioned throughout these things – doesn’t get a look in until the very last breath.

Instead, the short film describes the short, medium and long-term targets to reduce emissions, and the importance of covering off scopes 1, 2 and 3 (more on that front in next Wednesday’s bulletin). It details supplier engagement and the deadlines the company has set its suppliers (which make up “around a third” of the company’s total footprint). That every interviewee is wearing hairnets and a high vis jacket is also rather delightful. 

The video features in the company’s latest social impact report. Focusing on the climate element here, briefly, supply chain emissions have been reduced by 30% (or 100,903tCO2e) versus the 2017 baseline. GHGs related specifically to foodservice have fallen 21% (790,792tCO2e to 624,842tCO2e) between 2020 and 2023 thanks mostly to a focus on food waste.

Progress on reducing scope 3 emissions through shifting what people eat has (unsurprisingly) been slower. Sodexo is annually tracking sales of vegetarian and vegan meals across the UK and Ireland: analysis of over 2.7 million meals sold across 285 sites in 2023 shows that 11% of all meals sold were non-meat, which is a slight increase from the 10% registered in 2022. 

Plants are also being pushed in Paris this summer. Sodexo Live! is running the catering at the Paris Olympics and Paralympics, which means dishing out 40,000 daily meals for the 14,850 athletes and responsibility for providing grub to the general public at 12 competition sites. Around 60% of the food offered to the public will be vegetarian, reports the Food & Wine website, with 33% plant-based food for athletes. Some research shows how plant-based diets can help improve athletic performance and recovery. 

“We wanted to focus on the vegetarian options,” Philipp Würz, who is responsible for food and beverages at Paris 2024, told “We are convinced that with these Games we have a unique opportunity to do things differently and show that another model is possible,” he added. At the ‘La Concorde’ – where basketball, BMXing and skateboarding will be taking place – the food will be 100% vegetarian, with vegetarian hot dogs and the like.

Sausages have been in the news elsewhere this week too: Quorn announced (via The Grocer) that NHS foodservice operators will later this year be serving sausages made from a blend of its mycoprotein ingredient and meat. Quorn Foods CEO Marco Bertacca said the company was evolving from competing with meat companies to collaborating with them – and to cater for people looking to reduce their consumption of livestock products rather than go cold turkey. “This represents the majority of people, and so it is a massive opportunity to decarbonise part of the food system and improve public health,” said Bertacca (who this week also wrote about the “flawed” Nova food processing classification, and how the term ‘ultra-processed food is “misleading”).

There is plenty of potential in plant-meat hybrids. We’ve been banging on about blended burgers for some time; the taste profiles are positive but the challenge will be in how they are marketed. Done well the carbon (and health?) benefits could be substantial. Researchers at the University of Oxford have suggested that if McDonald’s and Burger King (which together represent 2-3% of global beef purchases) swapped 50% of the beef in their burgers for plants by blending burgers it would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 51MtCO2e (equating to 80% of their net-zero targets). 

Two of our other stories this week focus on GHGs. The good news is that some of the main farm-level carbon counters have agreed to harmonise their approaches (Defra research shows they currently produce some wildly different results). The bad news, from CDP, is that supply chain (scope 3) emissions “continue to be overlooked” by corporates. We also feature a piece from Fairtrade about a new collaborative effort from UK supermarkets that should help producers weather some of the climate storms.

And we ought to say something, finally, about the general election taking place next week. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have scored four of the parties on their promises around climate and nature. Dan Crossley’s piece for The Grocer is worth a mention, too. “On average, food and farming are a mere ‘chapter 12 of 18’ issue in the manifestos of the major political parties,” the executive director at the Food Ethics Council writes. “We need political leaders to understand food is at the heart of everything,” and “[w]ith a UK general election imminent, we face fertile ground for sowing seeds of change”.

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