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Pubs missing out on organic food boom

By Lucy Britner , 08-May-2007

London's eateries are missing out on a booming market for local and ethical food, according to a new report.

One Planet Dining was published by London Food Link - group of organisations dedicated to increasing the availability of sustainable foods. The report suggests that operators are not communicating sustainability to their customers.

Geetie Singh, founder of the world's first organic certified pub, the Duke of Cambridge in Islington, said: "In the coming years, more and more people will be interested in the provenance of restaurant food - local food and sustainability will be key."

Interviews with customers show that they would welcome more information and almost 75 per cent of customers say they want to see local foods named on menus, particularly vegetables, meat and poultry.

Oliver Rowe, who runs Konstam at the Prince Albert in Kings Cross, buys about 90 per cent of its produce from inside the M25. He said: "Konstam's customers have become more and more engaged with what we're trying to do. It's clear we're not only getting the message across that local produce is delicious and ethical, but also that there's a growing desire to change the way we think about food."

But a spokesman for London Food Link said there is a lack of training and guidance to help operators introduce such measures.

London Food Link co-ordinator Ben Reynolds said: "We rarely came across examples of restaurants or suppliers that had been offered professional support to promote sustainability."

The report recommends four measures to drive the idea forward. They are:

• Training for caterers in how to find, buy and cook with fresh, local and seasonal food.

• Coordination of suppliers, and marketing support for food produced in close to London, with improved local food infrastructure and possibly a 'Local to London' brand.

• Free environmental audits for restaurants to help them identify ways to improve the sustainability of their waste, water, energy and food supply.

• Establishing a 'green restaurant' association.