A major new Devon-based award designed to celebrate and promote sustainability has been launched by Food Drink Devon, the county’s leading food and drink organisation which has over 350 members, at the Met Office headquarters in Exeter. Food Drink Devon’s Sustainability Pioneer Award will shine a light on businesses that go the extra mile in their endeavours to be environmentally friendly.
The organisation’s chair, Greg Parsons, said: “Underlying Food Drink Devon’s brand is the commitment to sustainability, provenance and quality, so this is central to everything we are about. Having the launch ceremony staged here at the Met Office gives us an obvious link with a world-class organisation, which really does put a stamp of approval on this award and its ambitions.”
Greg added: “The South West is definitely leading the way when it comes to environmental sustainability and, as a county organisation, we are one of the first to put sustainability at the forefront of what we do.”
Ian Cameron, Markets Director at the Met Office, commented: “The world has increasingly been coming to terms with climate change and we are now entering a stage of adaptability. This is reflected by the launch of this fantastic award which will help promote local food and drink producers who are doing what they can to reduce the effects of carbon usage.”
“From the Met Office headquarters in Devon we have a truly global footprint, working with different governments and organisations – but this occasion means a lot to us because we must also think about the way in which we work locally. An initiative like this is important to the staff here because we must think about our own approach to climate change.”
The new initiative, which will become part of Food Drink Devon’s annual awards scheme, focuses on three main areas in which businesses are gearing up to become more sustainable.
Board director Howard Davies, who is also the co-founder and director at Salcombe Distilling Co., explained: “We are launching this additional award to recognise strong and effective sustainable activities being practised by Food Drink Devon members and by businesses elsewhere across the county. The new award looks for three key things: first, new initiatives and innovations which a business has put in place to achieve comprehensive benefits to the environment. We will be looking for cutting-edge ideas which are breaking new ground – ideas which can inspire others to follow.”
“Then there’s the underlying ethos within a company, reflecting levels of meaningful sustainability throughout,” he added. “So it’s not just about an initiative put in place by one person – but ideas which run throughout a business.”
“And lastly, we’ll be looking for really effective communication around these initiatives. This ties in with inspiring others. It’s where you are doing something fantastic, not only benefiting your own company, but also others within the food and drink industry and outside.”
Salcombe Distilling Co. provides several examples of sustainability in action, including a partnership with the Marine Conservation Society which sees some of the proceeds from gin sales being donated to protect areas of seagrass. They also have a bottle refill scheme in which customers get a 10 percent discount on their gin, allowing them to help the environment by saving glass, bottle caps and so on.
Well known drinks writer Susy Atkins, who is also on the board of directors for Food Drink Devon, commented: “This new award is a sign of the times – a lot of drinks producers are moving over to far more eco-friendly practices. Examples include things such as developing gravity-based wineries instead of using energy-hungry pumps, or using the waste grape skins to make spirits.”
“There is also a movement to use far fewer sprays – the vast majority of vineyards are significantly cutting down and Devon wineries are no exception.”
Food Drink Devon is a not-for-profit membership organisation of food and drink producers, retailers, hospitality venues and related businesses dedicated to serving up the best produce from the county. With a focus on quality, sustainability and provenance, Food Drink Devon’s aim is to support and promote their members and raise Devon’s culinary profile as a whole.
For more information and details on the new Sustainability Pioneer Award visit www.fooddrinkdevon.co.uk/awards