Hospitality firms sign up to fruit and veg pledge

Our dining habits in the UK have shifted considerably over the years, with the range of international cuisines and refined takes on British classics now found in restaurants and supermarkets largely unrecognisable to the limited options available to consumers a generation ago.

And it is up to those in hospitality jobs within the food and drink sector to continually review the products and services they offer their customers to make sure they match up to the demands of the modern consumer.

In recent years, this has increasingly meant providing costumers, whether they be diners at a restaurant or shoppers at a supermarket, with the information and choice to not only eat tasty meals but also receive a balanced and healthy diet.

Partly in reaction to growing levels of obesity in the UK, an increasing number of people are taking steps to make sure they get the right levels of nutrients in their diet and cut down on their intake of salt and fat.

And now, a new initiative aims to encourage those in the hospitality sector and across the food and drink industry to make it even easier for customers to make sure they are consuming the right things by asking them to sign up to the Responsibility Deal pledge.

Those who sign up to the pledge are obliged to take steps to improve the nutritional content of the products they offer, with the latest phase of the scheme focussing on encouraging producers to increase the amount of fruit and veg they add to ready-meals and pre-prepared food and asking supermarkets to expand their fruit and veg sections.

"Through the Responsibility Deal we have already achieved real progress in helping people cut the calories and salt in their diet," commented the government's public health minister Anna Soubry.

"Getting your five-a-day can help lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease and some cancers, but we know that can be a challenge. That is why we want to work with the food industry to help everyone make healthier choices."

A number of firms in the hospitality industry have already signed up to the pledge.

This includes CH&Co Catering, which will encourage its customers to consume more fruit and vegetables in its restaurants by further working on its vegetarian food focus and rewarding customers who buy multiple fruit and vegetable portions in one transaction with discounts.

Meanwhile, Brakes, which provides pubs, restaurants, education and other sectors with food produce, will encourage its customers to include more fruit and vegetables in dishes and on menus through a range of communications and promotions.

Commenting on the scheme, food adviser for the British Hospitality Association (BHA) John Dyson said: "On behalf of BHA members, we’ve helped the government develop this fruit and veg pledge and we are pleased to see its launch today.  

"Food Service suppliers such as Brakes and CH&Co have already signed the fruit and veg pledge and we will be encouraging other members to follow suit.

"This is about our industry making a united effort to help improve consumers understanding and habits around eating five portions of fruit and veg every day."

Meanwhile, those looking for hospitality jobs in the food service industry, whether as chefs or in  product development or marketing departments, may find that being aware of the growing importance of health and nutrition could be a strong asset when applying for vacancies.

Indeed, earlier this year, research by Unilever Food Solutions found that more than half of UK diners want healthier options when eating out, showing there is strong demand among consumers when it comes to healthy eating.