Choosing more sustainable ingredients

Thursday, 11 March, 2021

When planning a menu, it is good to choose ingredients thoughtfully and sustainably. Certain types of food impact the environment more than others due to their water or land requirements, carbon footprint, agricultural chemicals, biodiversity concerns, or other environmental pressures.

Choosing more sustainable ingredients

What are sustainable ingredients?

Sustainable food ingredients are ingredients that have been cultivated, packaged and transported using sustainable practices. These practices minimise contributions to global warming and respect our planet's natural ecosystems and biodiversity. Sustainable practices also ensure that food is ethically sourced, with good working conditions and fair compensation for human workers at every stage, from farming to packaging and delivery1.

Sustainable practices within the foodservice industry

Within the foodservice industry, reducing food waste and composting are examples of sustainable practices being adopted by café and restaurant owners who want to do more to make the world better for future generations. Read our guide to composting and tips on reducing food waste to see how you can incorporate these strategies in your business.

 

How to choose more sustainable ingredients

As a foodservice operator, there are many things you can do to use more sustainable ingredients in your kitchen.

 

Use local produce

One of the easiest things you can do to make the fresh ingredients you use more sustainable, is to source them locally. The less distance produce needs to travel to reach your kitchen, the less energy is used, whether that energy is fuel for delivery trucks or electricity to power refrigeration devices.

Not only does sourcing local produce conserve energy, but it also means the food will be as fresh as possible. You'll also be supporting local growers and businesses, which will improve your reputation in your community and attract more customers.

With Australians having a growing interest in food transparency, adopting a 'farm to fork' approach makes it easier for you to provide assurances to your customers that you're serving safe and healthy produce direct from farmers.

Chef harvesting fresh produce off the local sustainable organic farm

 

Embrace seasonality in your menu

While it's nice to serve customers their favourite dishes all year round, not all the ingredients in them are readily available during all seasons. When a particular ingredient is out of season locally, it needs to be imported, which increases the financial and environmental cost.

If your menu is designed around seasonal ingredients, it means you can continue to source everything locally in a sustainable way. Instead of seeing this as a limitation on what you can serve, see it as a chance to introduce variety to your menu, giving your customers something new to try throughout the year.

Know what fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices are in season throughout Australia with this seasonal produce guide from Sustainable Table. Also, if you're thinking about restructuring your menu around seasonality, keep in mind our tips for simple menu design.

 
Collection of seasonal vegetables ready for preparation

 

Look for sustainable fish and seafood options

Decades of unregulated fishing has decimated the world's oceans, resulting in many endangered species of sea life. Luckily, organisations like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) are helping food industry operators and consumers know what farmed and wild species of seafood are sustainably sourced.

GoodFish's sustainable seafood guide is a great resource you can use to know what seafood species are considered sustainable, what you should purchase less of, and what you should say no to altogether.

 
Chef gutting and filleting fish on cutting board in kitchen

 

Choose products from companies with a sustainable focus

Whilst not all products can be sourced locally, consider sourcing ingredients from companies who have a focus on sustainability. Nestlé is committed to achieving sustainable, resilient food supply chains. Over the years, we've endeavoured to transform our supply chains to:

  • Provide transparency
  • Better protect and preserve environmental resources
  • Respect and protect human rights
  • Ensure animals are kept healthy and treated with dignity

 

Find out more about our responsible sourcing strategy.

 
Happy farmer picking corn salad leaves on farm field