Air-freighted produce off the menu for COP26 and top sports venues


Some of the UK's top sports and entertainment venues, including the conference centre that is to host the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow this autumn, are set to end the use of air-freighted produce on their menus.

Levy UK + I, the sports and hospitality arm of catering services giant Compass Group UK, last week announced a total ban of the use of air freighted produce for all of its sports and hospitality venues, including the O2 Arena, Wimbledon, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and the Scottish Events Campus in Glasgow, which is to host the COP26 Summit in November.

The move is the latest initiative as part of Compass Group's strategy to achieve net zero emissions by 2030 and is expected to deliver a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of the food Levy UK + I serves. According to the International Transport Forum, freight transport represents more than seven per cent of global emissions and is one of the most carbon-intensive ways of transporting produce.

Levy said it will, instead, focus on produce seasonality when designing menus, using British-grown ingredients at their peak, such as runner beans, asparagus, and seasonal berries, instead of their imported equivalents.

"This decision is not about restricting choice, but about working in partnership with our procurement team and our chefs to be even more creative in how we design and deliver food experiences for our customers," said Jon Davies, managing director of Levy UK. "For Levy chefs, that means dishes that are increasingly built around British seasonal produce, that do not compromise on taste or quality, and that are good for both people and the planet."

Levy said aims to evenutally deliver carbon neutral meals across as many of its venues as possible, as it also moves to curb food waste and carbon emissions.

Davies continued: "On the procurement side, it's about finding alternatives to air freight that are less harmful to the environment. Lots of green vegetables which can be grown right here in the UK are unnecessarily imported from abroad via this method, which carries a huge cost to the health of our planet.

"We will still supply produce such as tropical fruits and avocados where there is demand, but it's about finding producers closer to home - continental Europe, for example - or less harmful methods of transportation that reduce our carbon impact on the planet, such as boat, road or rail."