Levy UK + I championed sustainable food at COP26

The food strategy at COP26, devised and implemented by leading caterer Levy UK+I and delivered through SEC Food in partnership with Glasgow SEC, set a clear example to the world as to how to promote sustainability whilst providing a low-carbon, diverse and delicious menu. The best practice from COP26 will now be amplified at other Levy UK+I run events.

Sales of vegetarian and plant-based dishes took centre stage, accounting for 60% of retail sales from a total of over 125,000 menu items sold during COP26. Largely achieved by serving local produce, with 80% of the food served from Scotland and a further 15% from within the UK.

The majority of suppliers were based within 100 miles of Glasgow, allowing for partnerships with quality brands such as Edinburgh’s Mara Seaweed, Stoats and Barra Berries, all which helped us deliver a low-carbon menu.

In order to help attendees understand the menu’s carbon footprint and make an informed choice, Levy partnered with Norwegian start-up and environmental consultants, Klimato, to calculate and share the carbon footprint of each dish via an eco-label.

The purchase of nearly 50,000 plant-based products exemplified the plant-forward focus, with menus comprising of 60% meat-free dishes – many of which provided fresh takes on ‘classic’ dishes, such as the Herbalism Burger; a sustainable and delicious alternative to the traditional beef offering.

Whilst over 40% of menu options were completely plant-based and vegan-friendly, the emphasis placed on inclusivity and choice also allowed for the availability of more traditional dishes, with the reduction of meat portioning enabling Levy to provide these options within the context of a responsible and sustainable approach.

More than 11,000 portions of sustainable Fish and Chips were enjoyed across the 12-day conference, making it one of the most popular dishes. Beef featured just twice on the 60-dish retail menu and accounted for only 3% of sales.

Kevin Watson, Business Director, Levy UK+I, who oversaw COP26 from inception to completion, said “To see our objective to deliver a low-carbon menu come to life at COP26 has been positively exhilarating.

''There has been an amazing team spirit and tenaciousness which has allowed all this to happen, and we’re very grateful to the entire SEC Food Team and Levy UK + Ireland for their support in delivering it.

We worked hard to create environmentally friendly menus that were accessible to all. As we all take steps to protect our planet, our sustainable food strategy and plant-forward approach will shape menus of the future.

' We were delighted to showcase and work with so many local Scottish suppliers, enabling us to provide great tasting, nutritious and seasonally sourced food. The team has delivered so many great sustainable initiatives which we will use as a catalyst for change to drive our Levy Climate promise to be Net Zero by 2027.”