Christian, according to the worldwide METRO customer survey, 91% of restaurateurs feel ‘completely’ or at least ‘a little’ responsible for sustainability. What is METRO Germany’s experience with this issue?
Our customers’ expectations generally reflect an increasing awareness of sustainability. Besides the survey findings, we see this primarily in the increasing demand for sustainable products.
The responsible use of natural, economic and social resources has become mainstream in recent years. More and more people are thinking, ‘What can I do, where can I make a change?’. This frequently begins with questioning their consumption habits, especially in terms of food. And of course this then becomes noticeable for our customers in the hospitality industry as well. A good example is the increased numbers of vegetarians and vegans. Today, guests expect a restaurant to offer vegetarian dishes at the very least, or even better, vegan dishes. That means that restaurateurs need the appropriate products, which they in turn request from us as a wholesaler.
No, not in the least. This is illustrated by the participants in our competition for the METRO Award for Sustainable Hospitality, which we launched in 2019. They range from traditional hotel restaurants run by families to completely vegan start-ups, from Michelin-starred restaurants to community catering operations. The spectrum of measures is just as broad: regional and seasonal cuisine, avoidance of single-use plastics, use of green energy and so on. This also shows that everyone can do something, even if it’s just baby steps at first.
With the METRO Award for Sustainable Hospitality, we honour green concepts and sustainable initiatives in the hospitality industry, giving these innovators a platform to receive the recognition they deserve. At the same time, we show the entire sector ways to make the hospitality industry sustainable. Ultimately, our aim is to give those who are still on the fence the courage to tread new paths and look for opportunities to make their own business more sustainable.
An example of a special project: As a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, it is likely that many restaurateurs will have to continue to rely heavily on their outdoor areas so as to ensure adherence to hygiene and social distancing regulations. However, the outdoor heaters used there are considered harmful to the environment. For this reason, METRO offsets the CO2 emissions of the appliances we sell. We have obtained climate certificates for them to support alternative-energy generation projects. Furthermore, we are funding the natural reforestation of a woodland area in the Harz Mountains that has been damaged by the dry conditions of recent years.
METRO Award for Sustainable Hospitality
Here too, the selection is extremely varied and ranges from regional fruit and vegetables to vegan alternatives to meat and fish. Furthermore, instead of single-use tableware made from plastic, we offer recyclable, compostable or reusable alternatives and we are reducing the plastic content in our own brand packaging. Finally, we are also working on all fronts to combat food waste, for example through demand-oriented warehousing and also though collaboration with social institutions such as food banks.
We are currently working on making our existing commitment more visible so our customers can derive greater benefits from it. Ultimately, the restaurateurs who buy sustainable products from us should also be able to position themselves accordingly among their guests by pointing to the products’ origin or sustainable manufacturing. Customers should know that they can rely on us.