The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) has launched a new membership scheme for contract caterers that will aim to encourage businesses in the sector to use sustainably sourced ingredients in the food they serve.
Caterers Bartlett Mitchell and The Lindley Group helped the SRA to develop the new membership and will also be its first to sign up.
Under the scheme, the SRA will rate the sustainability of a member catering business as a whole and assess individual sites.
Mark Linehan, managing director of the SRA, said: "A huge number of people dine in outlets run by contract caterers, giving these operators great influence over what we eat and the way we think about food, where it comes from and how it is produced and served.
"We are very excited to have developed this new model of working with these two caterers and look forward to forming closer ties with them and other contract caterers."
Bartlett Mitchell already has several sites with SRA membership and said this has helped it to bring in a number of measures to improve sustainability.
The company's chairman Ian Mitchell, said: "The work already undertaken through the SRA membership process for a few sites has been very good for us and enabled us to look at our systems 'under the microscope'.
"As a result, we've brought in various new initiatives, for example, introducing herb gardens in the grounds of client premises, measuring the percentage of British products bought, and ensuring menus reflect the seasonal changes. Client buy-in has been incredible."
The SRA was established in 2010 initially to assist restaurants in becoming more sustainable and helping diners make more sustainable choices when eating out.
It assesses members in three key categories – sourcing, environment and society – and earlier this year elected celebrity chef Raymond Blanc as its first ever president.
Jonathan Davies, The Lindley Group's sales and marketing director, commented: "We're pleased to be at the forefront of the SRA's move into the contract catering sector, and believe that their help and guidance will enable us to fast track a lot of the initiatives we already have underway whilst opening up new avenues for us to explore."
Berkeley Scott is a specialist recruitment agency in the catering industry