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Our oceans ensure our future

John Wright, Senior VP, Global Head of Food, Sodexo

About the author : John Wright

Senior Vice President, Global Head of Food for Sodexo

Our oceans play an essential part in ensuring life on our planet. Oceans cover 71% of the planet’s surface. They regulate temperatures, determine our weather and store an estimated 83% of the worlds carbon. The health of our oceans is essential to the health of our planet.

However, our oceans are struggling with rising water temperatures, rising sea levels and increasing water acidity due to the absorption of the world’s carbon emissions. One of the biggest threats our oceans also face is overfishing, as we humans are taking more from the ocean than it can sustainably replenish. Over the years, demand for seafood has continued to rise and several important fish populations have significantly declined. 

June 8 is World Oceans Day, a day sponsored by the United Nations to raise awareness around the impact of human actions on the oceans, and the importance of sustainably managing this magnificent natural resource.   
 
To be good stewards of the oceans, as a global food services company, we must lead the way with sustainable practices. Here are three ways we are prioritizing the health of our oceans in the way we do business: 

1. Committing to sustainable seafood sourcing 

One way we are doing this is by promoting the use of seafood that is caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term vitality of the species and the well-being of the oceans.
 
As a company, we’ve committed to sourcing at 100% sustainable seafood* by 2025, and we are currently at 77.7% of our goal. In order to meet this goal, we are working with suppliers to source increasingly from responsibly managed fisheries and seafood farms.  Collaboration and partnerships have been critical in helping move the needle on topics like this one. Sodexo was notably a founding partner and is represented on the Board of Directors of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), a recognized multi-stakeholder platform that provides a global benchmarking tool for seafood certification schemes.

2. Protecting threatened species

Our supply management team has worked with leading industry organizations and NGOs to put together a Sodexo Sustainable Seafood Sourcing Guide. This guide includes a simple Red, Orange and Green rating that makes it easy to identify which species we should be buying and using in our menus to best protect our oceans.  The guide highlights species that are sustainably managed, meaning those that are not “at risk”, to inform our dishes and menus. Compliance with this guide is how we measure progress towards our overall sustainable seafood commitment. The guide also provides information around specific fisheries and species information that helps understand farming and catch methods.   Ultimately, this easy-to-use guide helps our culinary teams make the best choices for responsible sourcing of the seafood assortments we serve to our customers.

3. Increasing awareness of sustainable seafood

Our research shows that more than half of our consumers would like to see more fish on our menus. Our consumers are aware of the health and nutritional benefits of seafood and are also increasingly concerned about where their food is coming from, wanting to be sure that it has been responsibly sourced. 

By offering a wide range of sustainably sourced seafood to the consumers in our restaurants we raise awareness of seafood which is not threatened from over-fishing and broaden the dietary repertoire of our consumers across every meal they eat, not just the ones they choose to eat in our restaurants.

Our creative, passionate and dedicated chefs use cooking techniques that ensure our fish and seafood dishes are perfectly prepared so guests can enjoy a delicious and creative meal every time they stop by our restaurants.

It’s this ongoing work which offers so much promise for the future. 

This World Oceans Day, I invite you to join us in celebrating the role the oceans play in our lives.  Next time you stand at a shoreline, whether white-sand beaches or sheer rock cliffs, let yourself be moved by the vastness of the sea and the seemingly unlimited waters that stretch farther than the horizon. The ocean is alluring and beguiling, with its eddying tides, mysterious depths and remarkable marine life. Yet keep in mind that the sea, with its millions of miles of water, is not an endless source of bounty, and the future health of its entire ecosystem depends on all of us.

* As defined by the Sodexo Sustainable Seafood Sourcing Guide

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This article was adapted from an article shared on the personal LinkedIn account of John Wright, Senior Vice President Global head of food at Sodexo.

June 08, 2021

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