Bon Appétit grapples with seafood goal


Steven Hedlund

Published on
April 7, 2009

Bon Appétit Management Co. announced this week that it's well on its way to achieving its 2009 carbon-reduction goals, including cutting beef purchases by 25 percent, cheese purchases by 10 percent, tropical fruit purchases by 50 percent and reducing food waste by 20 percent.

The Palo Alto, Calif., foodservice operator - which serves more than 80 million meals annually to approximately 400 cafés at corporations, universities and specialty venues nationwide - is trying to reduce its overall carbon footprint by 25 percent by April 2010.

However, meeting its carbon-reduction goal for seafood is proving to be a harder than anticipated, said Helene York, director of the Bon Appétit Management Co. Foundation. In March 2008, the company pledged to stop purchasing air-freighted seafood as part of its Low Carbon Diet initiative.

To date, 90 percent of the seafood Bon Appétit buys is regionally procured or frozen at sea, said York in an e-mail.

"Because total traceability doesn't exist at this time, our chefs sometimes cannot get the information from their suppliers 100 percent of the time. So right now we cannot say that we have eliminated 100 percent of air-freighted seafood," she said.

Though it hasn't met its carbon-reduction goal for seafood quite yet, Bon Appétit has influenced its seafood suppliers to furnish traceability information not only to the company but also to all of its customers.

"Great strides have been made in creating a more transparent seafood supply chain, including method of transportation," said York.

Bon Appétit's commitment to sustainability goes back several years. Since 2002, the company has required its chefs to buy only sustainable seafood on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Watch guide's "best choices" and "good alternatives" lists.

This week's announcement comes as Bon Appétit is about to celebrate its Low Carbon Diet Day on 22 April, coinciding with Earth Day.

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