Vacherin welcomes the steps that Government is taking to encourage individuals to make healthy food choices and to tackle obesity. We had anticipated mandatory calorie labelling but have concerns with the practicality of its blanket implementation across the food service sector. Additionally, our approach has always been that calorie counting is just one consideration of a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle, and as such our menus and the information that we provide to our customers takes a more holistic approach.
Contract catering within the corporate sector is unique in that, unlike the high street multi-site food outlets, each individual site is likely to be serving a different menu on any given day. Each contract has its own Vacherin kitchen team on site, preparing menus for our clients’ workforce that have been created to suit their tastes, their demographic, their working patterns and so on. As a boutique caterer we don’t issue recipes centrally nor do we implement menu cycles; our chef teams have the autonomy to purchase their preferred ingredients for any given dish. We also encourage regular conversations between our chefs and suppliers to purchase seasonal ingredients, produce that is in abundance and fresh fruit and vegetables that for cosmetic reasons have been rejected by the supermarkets. The availability of these ingredients determine what our chefs will be cooking.
This is why we believe that the calorie labelling of the entire menu, whilst wholly possible, is in-part impractical. It may quash the spontaneity and creativity of our chefs – and their autonomy to create menus that have been tried and tested for their own customer base. There is also a fundamental flaw in Government’s demarcation of imposing this on employers with over 250 employees. It needs to focus instead on multiple outlets serving the same menu, and fixed menus for a set period of time.
We would encourage Government to take a more balanced approach for the Business and Industry sector. We already provide our award-winning Nutritious & Delicious (N+D) range of over 160 healthy grab and go products and menus – all nutritionally analysed and calorie counted by Gary Baverstock, Vacherin’s own nutritionist. N+D is just one element of our overall approach to encouraging our customers to adopt healthier lifestyle. We offer food and nutrition one-to-one sessions with Gary, workshops and healthy eating masterclasses across our contracts as well as promoting healthy ingredients which then feature in our daily specials. We incentivise our customers to choose healthier options and we work alongside our clients’ wellbeing teams to align Vacherin’s messaging with our clients’ overall wellbeing strategy.
Vacherin caters for the London corporate market and our customers typically have an appetite for healthy food and are receptive to advancing their knowledge on nutrition and wellbeing matters. Our menus provide for a plethora of healthy eating regimes and lifestyles; in our opinion there’s a much bigger picture in educating the nation on healthy eating (starting with primary schools and continuing throughout a child’s education), rather than the focus being on calorie labelling.