Hospitality company Levy has announced plans to no longer use air freight in the supply of produce to its portfolio of venues across the UK and Ireland, a move it claims marks a first for the industry.

Levy said the decision has been developed and deployed throughout 2021 and forms part of its wider food strategy as it moves forward with its carbon-neutral ambitions.

Levy’s procurement team and executive chefs will be placing a greater emphasis on British seasonality when designing menus across a venue portfolio which includes Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, The O2 and the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

The new approach will see Levy-prepared dishes reflect seasonality in terms of composition and taste, with in-season ingredients to be used when they are at their peak in terms of flavour and nutritional value. Levy chefs will use runner beans, asparagus and seasonal berries instead of previously imported items such as fine beans, South American asparagus and air-freighted berries from around the world.

Levy has worked closely with Foodbuy, the procurement arm of Compass Group UK and Ireland, to analyse the journey of the food produce supplying its venues in the UK.

According to the International Transport Forum, air freight transport collectively accounts for more than 7% of all global emissions and is thought to be the most carbon-intensive method of transporting fresh produce.

Levy said its decision to ban air freight aligns with the commitments outlined in the Levy Cares Charter, which launched in 2018 and details the company’s approach towards designing menus that are “beneficial to people and the planet”.

Levy has also expressed its continued commitment to reducing food waste, limiting reliance on animal protein across its menus and promoting a greater proportion of plant-forward options across its venues and hospitality tiers.

Jon Davies, managing director of Levy UK, said: “It has long been our ambition as a company to divest from the use of air freight in our procurement and supply chains. 

“As the market leader in sports and leisure catering, we believe it is our duty to continue leveraging the power of our supply chain to drive better environmental, safety and welfare standards right across our sector. We are constantly building, shaping and refining our regional, national and international supply networks to ensure that Levy remains an agent of change at the forefront of the food industry.

“This decision is not about restricting choice, but about working in partnership with our procurement team and our chefs to be even more creative in how we design and deliver food experiences for our customers. For Levy chefs, that means dishes that are increasingly built around British seasonal produce, that do not compromise on taste or quality, and that are good for both people and the planet.”

Image: Levy