Stefanie Awe
Author: Stefanie Awe

Sustainability as a recipe for success?

25 June 2019
Gastronomy-politics talk on the day of sustainable gastronomy

On the occasion of 18 June, the United Nations Day of Sustainable Gastronomy, METRO invited guests from politics, gastronomy and associations to the roof terrace of the wholesale store in Berlin-Friedrichshain. Possibilities for avoiding plastics, reducing food waste and more regional food in the hospitality sector were discussed.

Environmental protection, climate protection, animal welfare and sustainable value creation are playing an increasingly important role in politics and society - also in gastronomy. What we eat, where our food comes from and what kind of waste is produced is a matter of equal concern to restaurateurs and their guests. How can concrete solutions for more sustainability in the hospitality sector look like? What experiences have restaurateurs in the context of sustainability and what can we learn from this?
Moderator René Kaplick discussed this with Dr. Anke Niederhaus from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Michelin-star chef Marco Müller, the founder of the Berlin Zero Waste Restaurant FREA, David Johannes Suchy, and Roland Brenneis from the restaurant ‘Tiroler Bauernstuben’.
In addition, Sebastian Müller, founder of the start-up HALM, a reusable glass straw, and André Richter of TooGoodToGo, an app for avoiding food waste, enriched the panel discussion with their innovative and creative solutions. Anne Hildebrand, responsible for sustainability at METRO AG, and Tim Kruppe from Hospitality Digital completed the discussion round.

Panel discussion
© Marco Urban

David Johannes Suchy; © Marco Urban

The discussion was particularly intense on ways of avoiding waste and reducing the use of plastics in the hospitality sector. The pioneer in this respect is David Johannes Suchy, who almost completely avoids waste with his Zero Waste Restaurant FREA.

For us it is not simply about avoiding plastic - for us in the restaurant it is about finally making cooking and food a real experience again!

David Johannes Suchy, Founder and CEO of FREA

A key aspect of waste prevention is the use of reusable, recyclable or compostable alternatives. An example of this is the reusable glass straw ’HALM’, which is gradually gaining acceptance among guests and restaurateurs.

In the end, it is the guest who ensures that the glass straw works and not the restaurateur!

Sebastian Müller, CEO & CO-Founder of HALM
Sebastian Müller; © Marco Urban

Michelin-star chef Marco Müller made it clear that voluntary activities by restaurateurs, customers and guests are an important step towards avoiding plastic, but that in the end tangible progress can only be achieved through political decisions:

In order to get plastic avoidance across the board, one must not just blame the restaurateurs - it is also up to the politicians!

Marco Müller, RUTZ wine bar and restaurant
Marco Müller; © Marco Urban

Dr. Anke Niederhaus; © Marco Urban

The contribution of gastronomy to avoiding food waste was also passionately discussed. After all, the hospitality sector is the most important market for food in Germany after food retailing. Estimates by the Federal Environment Agency indicate that of the 70.5 kilograms of food that are kept available every year in the out-of-home area per person, around 23.6 kilograms are thrown away. There are many reasons for this: overproduction, miscalculation, incorrect storage, food as decoration or waste produced during cooking. Dr. Anke Niederhaus, the responsible head of department at the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, has a concrete concern when it comes to avoiding food wastage in the hospitality sector:

All restaurateurs should be able to measure their food waste.

Dr. Anke Niederhaus, Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture

The METRO subsidiary Hospitality Digital supports chefs with tips and tools against food waste and offers practical digital analysis tools with which restaurateurs can analyse and eliminate the causes of their food waste.
In addition, METRO has the ‘Beste-Reste-Box’ in its assortment, which was developed by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture initiative ‘Zu gut für die Tonne’ and the Greentable e.V. association. This is a 100% biodegradable and recyclable box with which leftovers can be taken home after a visit to a restaurant and eaten later.

METRO also cooperates with ‘Too Good To Go’ in order to further combat food waste. The app offers a platform that enables users to purchase overproduced dishes from restaurants that would normally be thrown away at a reduced price. The app has been online since 2015 and is regularly used by 850,000 people throughout Germany.

Our ultimate goal is that our partners in the hospitality industry don't have to throw away anything!

André Richter, Key Account Manager at Too Good To Go
Inspired by the themes of the evening, the sustainable buffet was opened after the discussion. At the same time, the guests had the opportunity to inform themselves about the presented solutions at the information stands and to talk about their experiences with sustainable solutions for restaurateurs.
André Richter
André Richter; © Marco Urban