Academy, together with its sister B&I catering brand, Angel Hill, has saved 227,366 kilos – that’s the equivalent of fifteen London buses – of ‘ugly veg’ from going to waste in the last 18 months. The firm’s ‘ugly veg’ campaign has made use of more than 77,000 items of fruit and veg, saving ‘ugly’ peppers, white cabbage, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, oranges, apples that would otherwise have been discarded or sold for a poor price.

Academy and Angel Hill ramped up sustainability measures and now only purchase fruit and vegetables that are deemed ‘ugly’ or ‘wonky’ wherever possible. The contract caterers made the switch in the autumn of 2019, as a means of tackling the vast global issue of food waste in line with the company’s increasing focus on CSR. Their prerogative is to support UK farmers, helping them achieve a fair price and route to market for their yield. On average, farmers struggle to sell 16% of their annual crop yield for purely aesthetic reasons. In the UK, 70 per cent of the total food wasted is edible.

Over the last 18 months Academy and Angel Hill have worked closely with their quality fresh produce providers to expand the variety of ‘ugly veg’ and adapt their menus to introduce even more seasonal lines. A fully comprehensive recipe portfolio is being developed for all sites which utilises each month’s seasonal ‘ugly’ produce. Dishes will include soups, meat, vegetarian and vegan main courses, desserts and home bakes. Seasonal produce is front and centre of Academy and Angel Hill’s food concepts and initiatives.

The education, healthcare and B&I caterers regularly promote ‘ugly’ meals across all sites, highlighting the issues of food waste to customers and educating and empowering them to make choices which reduce their own individual food waste.

With this programme already firmly embedded in the business, the aim is to further inform on-site teams, clients and customers alike about the issue of food waste and to equip the caterers’ food production teams with practical tips and great recipes to use as part of their daily offer.

Fresh vegetables make up the largest proportion of edible food that is wasted according to the circular economy charity, Wrap, making initiatives such as these a vital part of changing the way the industry approaches food and food waste.

Henry Watts, MD Catering at Atalian Servest, said “We are thrilled to see what a huge difference our ‘ugly veg’ campaign has made in the space of 18 months. Caterers have a huge responsibility to their clients and to the planet, our ‘ugly veg’ campaign allows us to create fantastic seasonal dishes while benefitting the environment. We look forward to growing this initiative to make an even bigger impact over the coming months and years.”