Dear Bon Appétit community,
As we close 2023, I want to share a note of gratitude to the many people who have contributed to Bon Appétit Management Company’s success this year. Our clients and employees, our suppliers, guests, and partners — all have contributed ideas, shared feedback, and inspired collaborations that made the year exciting and energizing. Among our peers in food service, we’ve continued to lead the way with our sustainability commitments, whether that’s related to waste reduction, local sourcing, or our plant-forward initiatives.
And as our commitments evolve and change with the world around us, we keep scaling our impact and driving positive change in the food system. And as always, we’re looking to the future and asking ourselves how we can continue to be a model for the industry in doing our part to build a more resilient and sustainable food system.
Here are some of my favorite highlights for Bon Appétit in 2023.
Pushing the Envelope on Plant-Based Cuisine
Terri Brownlee, MPH, LDN, RDN, Bon Appétit’s head of nutrition and wellness, spoke about pushing plant-forward boundaries in large-scale facilities at the Culinary Institute of America’s 2023 Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit in April. Terri’s talk highlighted the specific challenges that come with shifting menus in a company of our scale that doesn’t use corporate recipes. We’ve relied on our chefs’ creativity and technical expertise to advance our plant-forward initiative — and it’s working.
This year’s return to in-person plant-based trainings allowed us to spread the word and share the knowledge that our chefs have accumulated since we started the Plant-Forward Culinary Collaborative in 2019. Earlier this year we trained 125 chefs in 47 accounts on plant-forward best practices, with some very cool outcomes.
We tracked a detailed breakdown of spend on plant versus animal proteins and saw some exciting gains. An initial analysis of 15 business and higher education accounts found:
- A 44% average increase in plant-protein purchases by weight when comparing the three months pre- and post-training.
- Trends showed we’re on track to more than double the pounds of plant-protein purchased from fiscal year 2022 to 2023.
- Trends showed we’re on track to increase total dollars spent on plant purchases by more than 20% from fiscal year 2022 to 2023.
These are exciting findings, and it was also exciting to receive the Most Innovative Dining Outlet award by Produce Business for our plant-forward efforts. But that’s not the only area where we’ve made a difference. We keep pushing forward in different ways every day.
Innovating to Meet the Moment
The press took notice this year of how we’ve pivoted on our models to adapt to the changes in office culture and expectations post-pandemic. “Amenity restaurants” were on the rise before 2020, but the pandemic accelerated the trend, said Alison Harper, district manager in the Bay Area. Alison and I were both interviewed by the New York Times for a trend piece on the changing landscape of corporate dining, and Restaurant Business featured us in their piece on the same subject. The creative operational and culinary minds throughout the company drive innovation, day in and day out.
Growing our Impact in Diverse Ways
- Compliance to our coffee commitment through a period of exponential growth. Compliance to our coffee commitments is at 92.8%, up from 91.6% last year, despite our companywide coffee spend doubling between fiscal years 2021 and 2022. In 2019, we publicly pledged that by 2021, all of our coffee-bean purchases will come either from a third-party-certified/-verified source or from vendors enrolled in our Farm to Fork program. While 100% compliance is the goal, it’s energizing to know that our teams across the country are committed to making more sustainable coffee an everyday ritual.
- Important acts of advocacy, including our participation in Oceana’s campaign to stop Illegal, Underreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and this Op-Ed calling for lawmakers to uphold the will of the voters when it comes to animal welfare.
- Going global, which we did with our Waste Not program this year, when our parent company, Compass Group, rolled it out in locations around the world. Now, over 3,000 locations in 12 countries are using a program we invented to prevent and reduce food waste.
As we head into 2024, there’s a lot to look forward to — from taking our plant-forward initiative to the next level, to continuing to gain ground in the fight against food waste, to looking ahead to addressing additional resource use, like water, in the coming years. Thank you for all you do to make the Bon Appétit dream a reality every day.
Peace to all this holiday season. Warmest regards,