EDITOR’S VIEW: Less energy means more profit for commercial kitchens

Andrew Seymour grayscale

In a typical kitchen, around 25% of energy usage comes from the preparation, cooking and serving of food.

Another 30% is spent on refrigeration and heating water. Then you’ve got ventilation, cooling and lighting to think about — all of which account for another 6% to 10% of consumption each.

Wherever you look, there are costs to consider, but also savings to be made.

Sustainability and energy efficiency are hot topics where commercial kitchens are concerned.

Even if you forget the CSR argument for a second, which let’s face it doesn’t get operators as excited as you might think, even if the industry doesn’t necessarily like to admit it, the one thing that unites the sector is a desire for profit.

Failure to keep control of kitchen expenses affects average menu costs, harms margins and dents the bottom line.

Refrigeration is the only real area where any sort of transparent benchmarking is available, thanks to Minimum Energy Performance Standards brought in last year.

There will still be many operators unfamiliar with what these mean, but as similar work is done to include more categories of catering equipment hopefully that will change in time.

Interestingly, the Carbon Trust and The Soil Association Certification have just launched a new scheme designed to promote sustainable catering.

The ‘Green Kitchen Standard’ is an award to recognise caterers that sustainably manage energy, water and waste in their operations, helping them to demonstrate a commitment to good environmental management.

No organisation wants to waste energy and resources, but as the Carbon Trust itself has pointed out, time and time again the industry has seen that in practice there can be a big gap between intentions and behaviour.

Having an objective system to track performance and drive improvements (independently verified by a third party) can only help the industry take another step closer to becoming greener — and, as a by-product of that, significantly more profitable.

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