The central management identifies and creates a list of food items currently in use which the organisation wants to replace with sustainable alternatives. An example could be to reduce the purchase of imported white rice and increase the purchase of locally grown whole grain cereal. The targets are monitored and evaluated and can be increased yearly based on the results of the previous year. The purpose of the tool is to purchase more sustainable, healthy and locally grown/produced food items. The tool allows the organisation set long-term goals, monitor and keep track of progress in a clear and incentivising manner, and adjust the targets upwards as progress is being made. This way, the tool helps to reach set sustainability targets for your organisation and contributes to transforming the food system.
- Begin by deciding what you want to accomplish, e.g. to reduce red meat intake, support biodiversity or reduce climate impact from food items your organisation purchases. This process is preferably guided by a sustainability framework already accepted within the organisation, such as the Planetary Health Diet or Diet for a Green Planet.
- Gather data on food items that are purchased today so you get an overview of all the purchased food items. For example, by viewing records on all food purchases and deliveries from a recent period of time, you can see how much you are currently buying every food item.
Setting volume targets
- Target food items that do not align with your set goals.
- Do research to see if there are better options that you could replace them with, e.g. substituting food grown far away with more local varieties, substituting products with a high environmental impact with more sustainably produced alternatives. You can choose how many categories you want. If the aim of the volume targets is to increase the serving of organic products, these organically certified substitute foods need to be available from your supplier, or you could check if it is possible to buy from a local farmer.
Implementing volume targets in daily practice
- Communicate the volume targets in the whole organisation.
- Provide the staff with the necessary guidance on how frequently they can serve targeted food items to reach the set goal, so it is easy for them to implement (example in the link). This is especially useful when creating and planning menus. A volume target aimed at reducing the use of imported rice could mean that the serving frequency for rice is a maximum 3 times/month. This limit promotes the use of preferred replacement products.
- Regular reviews ensure that kitchens are on track to reach the set goals. By reviewing purchase statistics every month, together with kitchen management, the implemented volume targets are evaluated on a regular basis.
- At the end of the year, the outcome is evaluated. Based on results and feedback, a decision can be made to either upgrade goals for next year or stay with the same goals as the previous year but work more on communication and acceptance, for example.
More Issues To Consider
- This tool can be applied to organisations with everything from one kitchen up to multiple kitchens and/or a procured catering service.
- It could be wise to start by choosing one or two schools for piloting the use of volume targets. Multiple stakeholders are involved and affected, and each may require their own set of guidelines and information campaigns.
- The aim does not have to be to replace a certain food item altogether or all at once. It could be to increase one food item by 20% or X kg in a year and another by 15% or X kg. The implementation of this tool is a gradual process which has allowed time for adjustment and acceptance.
- If your organisation is using a catering service, working with volume targets can still be applied, but then you have to set demands on that catering firm and make them use the targeted food items you prefer.
Scince the targeted volumes are set over a year instead of each month, it enables purchasing seasonal food items without affecting the set goals.
- A challenge could be if a volume target is set on one food item that is hard to get/grow, it could possibly lead to that volume target not being reached because of low supply.
- Prioritise between product groups and targets that are considered most important. Are there alternatives that can be considered "second best"?
- Informing and educating as many parts of the delivery chain as possible on the use of volume targets will ensure better achievement of targets.