Sustainability IS Sustainable

CESA research highlights positive attitude to sustainability and a desire for common energy rating standard for catering equipment

Catering suppliers believe that sustainability will deliver a major boost to business in the next three years, according to research conducted by CESA, the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association. However, there is a growing need for a common standard to benchmark energy savings, to make it easier for end users to understand the benefits. 

33% of respondents said the drive for more environmentally sustainable practices will create new product and service opportunities, while 39% said it would encourage innovation.  A massive 81% agreed that sustainability will be a key to growing their business. 

The vox pop research was conducted on 16th November 2012 at the CESA Conference, in association with the FCSI and BHA.  Over 230 delegates, made up of equipment suppliers, distributors, consultants and foodservice operators, took part in a series of electronic surveys throughout the day. 

“This research gives a snapshot of attitudes and it is very pleasing that, overall, the view towards sustainability is so positive,” says Nick Oryino, chair of CESA.  “However, there are divisions.  For example, asked what impact sustainability will have on their business, 7% of delegates said it will reduce their profits and 10% said it will increase theirs.  Meanwhile the majority said it will improve their competitive positioning.”  

Over half of respondents think that ‘product and service innovators’ are the key skill sets that the industry needs to recruit to ensure a sustainable future, and that work needs to done on developing programmes and apprentice schemes to ensure a ‘strong talent pipeline.’ 

However, there are issues holding back investment in sustainable products, the key one being product substitution.  This is when an energy-saving product is specified for a job, then substituted later to save money.  70% of respondents agreed that product substitution is a major problem in the equipment supply chain.  Answering a follow-up question, 44% felt that emphasising the lifetime energy savings, or a system that gave clear and comparable life time costs, would help solve the issue.  9% suggested government incentives were the answer.    

There’s a difference of opinions when it comes to the best way to promote sustainability and sell ‘green’ equipment and supplies to foodservice operators.  23% want standardised energy efficiency tests, so that buyers can compare like for like.  22% think that tax incentives to end purchasers is the best encouragement, while another 22% think that better understanding of the issue amongst customers is the way forward.  At 14% the next most popular solution was legislation on performance. 

When asked what practical step could be taken to improve understanding of sustainability issues, over half agreed that independently established standards, with the verifications of costs, savings and benefits, was the way forward. 

This vox pop research was a direct result of the findings of the CESA-sponsored Mind the Gap research.  This was designed to identify the “gaps” in attitudes towards sustainability that exist between the three major constituents of the foodservice equipment supply chain: manufacturers, distributors and design consultants.

The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) is the authoritative voice of the catering equipment industry, representing over 160 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment – from utensils to full kitchen schemes.  For more information on CESA visit