ESS drives plant-forward offer across defence business

The Defence, Marine and Aerospace sector of ESS, part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, has introduced over 70 new plant-forward dishes as part of its defence food offer.

The move delivers health benefits for customers and sustainability improvements as the organisation works towards Climate Net Zero.

Senior chefs from across the business reviewed the company’s existing menu and reengineered all suitable recipes, replacing a proportion of the meat with a plant-based alternative.

The team looked at the make-up of each dish and trialled various plant-based proteins to deliver a new range that looks appetising, tastes great and meets the nutritional requirements of military personnel.

To be considered as plant-forward, the meat content of each dish has been reduced by at least 30% with the total protein content being maintained or increased.

The new meals are healthier, with an average 1g increase in fibre and lower fat and saturated fat. More options now meet the company’s ‘Nutritionist’s Choice’ criteria which educates customers by labelling nutritionally balanced choices at the point of sale.

Working to help MOD on its sustainability journey, the changes support ESS and the wider Compass Group UK & Ireland business on its mission to achieve Climate Net Zero by 2030.

The emissions associated with just one portion of a popular chicken dish have been reduced by 0.3 kg CO2e following the work. This translates to a substantial impact for an organisation that served over 12.4 million meals within its defence business last year.

ESS customer favourites such as spaghetti bolognaise, beef curry, Mexican enchiladas and lamb koftas are all recipes that are now significantly healthier for customers, better for the environment and still look and taste as authentic as they did before.

Leanne King, Head of Nutrition and Wellbeing – ESS, noted, “This has been a fantastic and innovative piece of work which is leading the way within our industry.

'Our culinary team have really pushed the boundaries of food innovation to further enhance the sustainability of our recipes and maintain or improve the nutritional profile whilst still ensuring contractual compliance for those in military training.”

Anne Simonnet, Director of Sustainability – Compass One, added, “The work our culinary team do to reduce the emissions connected to our menus is essential.

'Reducing the animal protein we use is absolutely key and is the action that will have the biggest impact in our journey to Climate Net Zero. To do so in a nutritive and delicious way is something the culinary team can be particularly proud of.”

Bob Gray, Managing Director – ESS Defence, Marine and Aerospace, remarked, “Plant-forward dining is becoming increasingly popular with today’s consumers who are concerned with both their own health and wellbeing and that of the planet. It’s important that we reflect these trends in the meals we are providing to our military customers.

'I’m delighted that our chefs have developed this new range of dishes which taste great, support customer health and wellbeing and contribute to our journey to Climate Net Zero.”