Time For Action on Health

It’s time the foodservice industry took health and wellbeing off the agenda and put it into practice, says 3663 communications controller, Lindsay Winser.


At 3663, we’ve always been passionate about our environment, products, communities and people. With more and more consumers looking for a great choice of foods that support their bid to live more healthily, our industry is responsible for not only delivering healthier options, but also equipping our customers with the knowledge and skills they need to offer balanced menus.


We know that making health and wellbeing a core part of our business – how we think and operate – and encouraging our supply chain to do the same has a positive impact on our outcomes. Taking a collaborative approach and working together is key if we’re serious about enhancing our businesses and our industry through our customers. So, we’re proud to be sponsoring Foodservice Footprint’s new Health & Wellbeing section – because improving the health of the nation matters.


As one of the leading foodservice wholesale distributors in the UK today – offering a broad range of food and non-food products and services to our 60,000 customers daily – we ensure that we’re continually reducing our environmental impact. We know that providing accurate labelling and nutritional information alongside a choice of natural, healthy and sustainable foods is fundamental to our future. Not only because government targets advise it, but because it is morally the right thing to do – and we cannot fall short.


More businesses than ever before are introducing health and wellbeing policies – making it an integral part of their CSR strategy.


The business case for it sells itself. But, when it comes to healthy products, we need to be working to the same agenda to ensure that we can improve the health and wellbeing of our customers, their consumers and ourselves.


There’s no argument that businesses big and small will continue to be challenged with the task of reducing sodium, sugar and fat levels without compromising on taste. We’ve already eliminated artificial colours, Monosodium Glutamate and Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil from our own label products1 but we know we can do more – this is one small part of the wider picture.


It’s time the industry took health and wellbeing off the agenda and put it into practice. After numerous industry calls to work more sustainably, we still lack a uniform approach to tackling these issues. Sustainability is interpreted in different ways depending on outlet type, and what’s deemed as important to that business; this could hold up progress. We must seek clarity of messaging together if we are to make a real difference by focusing on issues such as: product origin, traceability, ethical sourcing, meeting the needs of consumers with special diets, as well as those making a healthy lifestyle choice.


Six years ago we felt challenged to push ourselves and implement a campaign to help our customers find the right healthy products to suit their needs. We called it the ‘Positive Steps’ campaign. It demonstrated our commitment to being open and honest about our own brand products, providing customers with healthier menu options by controlling what went inside. Today, we accompany this with a wider offer from pure, fresh and natural produce for scratch cooking, to accredited goods like Marine Stewardship Council fish and seafood, British Red Tractor meat, poultry and dairy produce and a host of Fairtrade products.


We strongly believe that our role extends further than delivery to the kitchen door. That’s why we have a team of chefs who work closely with our customers to develop product, recipe and menu ideas and help them to better understand product sourcing. They’re equipped to advise customers on healthy cooking techniques to improve the nutritional content of many meals through dry-frying, grilling and recipe modifications; this all helps inspire chefs and caterers to consider changing the way they work.


But, let’s be realistic. We didn’t change overnight and we don’t expect to wake up tomorrow to a new industry. It takes time to develop the policies that work well for your business. However, we can get there quicker by working together and exchanging best practice. So don’t delay – take a closer look at your company commitments to your customers and consider how you can bridge the gap between what’s on paper and what’s happening in your business.


For more information, please visit: www.3663corporate.co.uk

[1] As identified in the FSA commissioned Southampton report.




May 2011


Health Comes Cheap



Lindsay Winser



A balanced diet is cheaper than any other, according to new research from BM Savings.

From 2005 to 2010, a traditional full English breakfast has shot up in price by from £12.40 to £16.55 – that’s 33 per cent. Meanwhile, a menu which focuses on health and includes a regular ‘5-a-day’ quota has jumped 64 per cent, from £5.39 to £8.85, the study claims.


But the figures also suggest that those with a balanced diet have been the least affected with a rise of only 18 per cent, from £7.63 to £9.01.


Grapes recorded the largest price increase at 91 per cent, from £2.66 per kg in 2005 to £5.08 in 2010. This was followed by two English Breakfast items; eggs at 82 per cent, from £1.57 per dozen to £2.86 and butter at 72 per cent, from £0.92 to £1.58. Potatoes had the second largest increase amongst fruit and vegetables at 63 per cent, from £0.99 to £1.61 per kg. Beef fillet (£11.93/ kg) and white fish fillets (£11.02/kg) were the most expensive shopping basket items in both 2005 and 2010.


Official figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that annual inflation measured by the Retail Prices Index (RPI) has risen for the sixteenth month in a row to reach 5.5 per cent in February 2011.


Editor’s Comment (David Burrows):


Nutritionists have welcomed this report, with one suggesting that the results will be “a great help for people who have good intentions to eat healthily but have been put off, assuming that it will be more expensive”. I am not so sure.


Comparing a cooked breakfast with the components of your 5-a-day is not comparing apples with apples. What’s more, the 5-a-day contained no veg, apart from potatoes, which are not part of the 5-a-day (whether they should be is another debate altogether). As for the ‘balanced diet’, there is no fruit or veg in it.


So I am not quite sure what this ‘study’ is really trying to prove. The cost of food is going up, we all know that – thus shrinking the margins of those providing it. The quest for foodservice is to manage that commercial reality with the demands of clients and policymakers. Can a balanced, or healthy menu, actually result in cost savings? Answers on a postcard please. DB.