Speaking at the event at the Bull and Last, Highgate, north London, hosted by The Morning Advertiser in association with VLAM.be, Spirits Events consultant Carlos Maidana explained the company had recently managed to save some £2,500 a month on its energy bills.
By using different equipment at different times and turning off certain fridges that would keep cold enough overnight and switching them back on in the morning as well as getting certain equipment up to temperature before turning it off, the business had reduced energy usage in its kitchens and front of house operations by 10% and 30% respectively in just one month.
Furthermore, Barons Pub Company managing director Clive Price said the crisis had forced pubs to look at different solutions and think “how can we make everything more sufficient”.
One way Price suggested pubs could do this was by reducing portion size or looking at addressing waste, namely products frequently being discarded by consumers on certain dishes, to help keep costs down and avoid increasing menu prices too much as inflation was “affecting people’s choices”.
Referencing a talk from the MA Leaders event last month in Brighton, East Sussex, as an example of how this can work, Price detailed how one high street pub chain managed to save 6.5m tomatoes, equating to £650,000 a year, by noticing they were mostly being wasted on breakfast serves, removing the item as standard on the dish and opting to offer it as a free addition.
Moreover, Price added pubs should be looking at using different technology, such as air fryers, which, while new technology, use less energy and can be easily switched on and off.
Though the managing director also stated the bigger pub companies should be doing “an awful lot more” to contribute towards sustainability and energy efficiency within the sector as they had better financial access to things like solar panels, which “as an induvial operator is hard to produce.”
However, Banwell House chief executive Toby Brett stated he felt labour costs had started to overtake energy worries as staff, especially chefs, had growing expectations in relation to wages and looking at ways to “make chefs jobs easier and work less hours”, would be more beneficial for pubs.
According to Brett, pubs could do this by considering how much produce needed to be made fresh on site, stating swapping certain fresh products for frozen, for example chips, could save chefs time, reduce labour expenses, and provide a more cost-effective dish while still offering “quality”.
Yet owner and chef of the Parlour, Brent, north west London, Jesse Dunford-Wood stated the energy crisis had been “more impactful than the pandemic” as the gastropub’s energy bills had soared from around £3,000 a month to some £13,000 a month.
He said: “[It’s like] being strangled in your sleep.