the time to act is now
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that we only have 12 years left to limit the negative effects of greenhouse gases. As we look back on our achievements from the last year, we look to position ourselves as thought leaders and pioneers with our attention firmly on doing even more for a sustainable future.
In the last year our sourcing policy extended to cover a switch to 100% free range milk and eco friendly cleaning products across all sites. To celebrate the businesses’ 15th birthday, 2018 also saw a calendar of fundraising activities culminating in over £20,000 donated to our charity partner, Luminary Bakery.
We have achieved 3* status as part of our annual Sustainable Restaurant Association audit. We are proud to have attained the highest star rating year on year and to have been recognised at the Food Made Good Awards in the Top 20 Foodservice Businesses for 2018. Vacherin have continued to uphold ISO 14001 accreditation and received numerous award nominations:
Sourcing local food that’s good for the planet
and good for people
We back British farmers by choosing local produce. This reduces food miles associated with purchased ingredients and ensures only the freshest seasonal produce is used in our kitchens.
Our chefs have full autonomy to create fresh dishes for their customers and clients every day. This flexibility enables every chef to work collaboratively with suppliers, to understand which products should be utilised and when. We hold long standing relationships with our suppliers; all of whom are based in England and Wales.
Vacherin are committed to high animal welfare. All eggs are sourced to free range standards and in the last year we took this even further and became the first contract caterer to supply 100% free range milk across the business.
Only sustainably caught fish and seafood is served. Guidance from the Marine Conservation Society is closely followed to guarantee we only use species identified as ‘Fish to Eat’.
Consideration goes into more than food. We promote drinks brands that are low in sugar and high in ethics. All our bottled water partners source from the UK and donate profits to charity. Sales of Thirsty Planet branded water from one site alone has enabled a water pump in Malawi to be constructed providing an extra 55 people with access to clean water.
The meals we serve are balanced. Our ‘Better For You’ range takes classic dishes and makes small swaps to decrease saturated fats, salt and sugars and increase fibre, protein and nutrition levels.
To get the nation eating less meat, we’ve pledged to procure 20% more veg by 2020 with the Food Foundation. This will improve human and planetary health.
We’ll achieve this through giving chefs the tools to create delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes as well as empowering customers to choose plant-based options.
Our partnership with Extract Coffee makes life better in coffee growing communities. Each farm has its own individual project to discern where the most positive impact can be reached.
Waste from the roasting process is recycled, which after just three months saved the equivalent of taking a car off the road for six months.
Their London based training centre has been built almost entirely from recycled materials, serving not only Vacherin baristas but also a hospitality training programme for homeless and vulnerable adults.
Going further than being a good employer
Our recent staff survey results were overwhelmingly positive. Our employees told us they are happy that they work for an organisation which is leading the future of the food industry, are pleased with their professional progression and would recommend working for us to a friend.
Investing in staff is a core part of our business. 85% of our staff are paid London Living Wage, which is set to be 100% by the end of this year. Every employee is provided with a plethora of training opportunities from apprenticeships, on-the-job skills to personal development courses. Each staff member also has a yearly sustainability refresher to ensure we are all working towards a greener future.
This year we launched a new communications platform, Vach Chat, which enables teams to share successes and overcome challenges collaboratively. This has promoted an inclusive environment where every employee contributes their thoughts and opinions to be part of the conversation.
We support our teams. We’ve partnered with Hospitality Action to create a bespoke Employee Assistance Programme, providing expert help in areas such as health & wellbeing, working life, and financial matters.
Vacherin reaches wider communities. This year our teams donated 296 hours to help a range of causes including homeless shelters, older adults with dementia, people affected by cancer, refugee centres and victims of PTSD, to name a few.
This year we’re focusing on staff wellbeing.
We are unique in our field by having two qualified mental health first aiders in our head office team to reduce the stigma around mental health issues and better support our staff.
By expanding the learning and development team, employees will have access to an even greater range of training opportunities to advance their career.
Le Tour de Vacherin
As part of Vacherin’s 15th birthday, a team of nine riders cycled over 1,000km from London to Switzerland raising £20,000 for Luminary Bakery.
This charity teaches skills in business and baking to some of the most disadvantaged women in the UK. The money we raised has funded a new training kitchen allowing a further 21 women to turn their lives around every year.
As a result each woman has everything she needs to train in the most professional environment possible, preparing them for professional kitchens. 88% of graduates have gone into work, further training or started a business.
Reducing our impact, promoting reuse and recycling resources
We see potential in surplus food. Vacherin joined WWF’s One Planet Plate to showcase a dish that makes the most of leftovers. Our teams have created a collection of recipes to minimise food waste and shared the knowledge across the chef team through workshops so all kitchens are cooking root to fruit.
Seeking new ways to decrease our waste is integral to a zero to landfill business. This year we launched an internal campaign to cut the use of blue roll dramatically by utilising reusable equipment. On top of this, all of the cleaning products used in our spaces are now eco-friendly, making our kitchens even greener.
Reducing our footprint is more than turning the lights off. Used coffee grounds are recycled with Bio-bean to create biomass and coffee logs. This results in 60% less emissions than landfill and 30% less than anaerobic digestion. All used cooking oil is converted into biofuel at the same farm it is grown.
Our local environment is important to us. In 2018 we hosted our first beach clean on the banks of the river Thames to tackle part of the capital’s plastic pollution problem. For every sales tender document printed by the business, a tree is planted to help protect our national woodland.
Coming up: Tackling Plastic
We’re tackling plastic holistically.
Rather than simply removing every ounce, we’re working with our suppliers to find the best option for each of our clients individually, whether that’s seeking products made from recycled materials, or recyclable or compostable.
Our priority is to decrease single use items that cannot be recycled.
Food Donation Connection
We’ve partnered with Food Donation Connection to redistribute surplus food. Over a trial period of 6 weeks Vacherin contributed 118 meals to users of the Notre Dame Refugee Centre.
This charity aids refugees and asylum seekers seeking protection and advice, as well as providing much needed sustenance. We will expand this programme, strengthening links between our sites and local hunger relief charities around the capital.
more to tell...