A CO₂ dashboard for customers – How Vermaat is making sustainable food even more accessible

The Netherlands loves the hospitality sector. We love eating out, enjoying a terrace with a (vegetarian) bitterball, or organizing extensive company drinks and dinners. But behind all that food lies a big mountain of environmental impact. How can we ensure all these Dutch hospitality enthusiasts contribute to a more sustainable food system? Exactly what catering company Vermaat wants to find out.

The Challenge

For many hospitality companies, the largest share of their environmental footprint (scope 3 emissions) comes from their supply chain (food production/suppliers). Catering company Vermaat wants to make its total environmental footprint- including that of suppliers- transparent and reduce it.

The Outcome

Through their LCA insights, Vermaat now knows with which of their suppliers they can improve their environmental footprint the fastest. To reduce their joint footprint (Vermaat & its suppliers) two dashboards have been developed: a Vermaat Customer Dashboard and an Ecochain Supplier Dashboard.

A CO₂ dashboard for customers – How Vermaat is making sustainable food even more accessible6 min read

A sustainable future starts with yourself 

They started out in 1978 as a delicacy shop, and are currently the leading specialist in tailor-made catering establishments. For years, hospitality company Vermaat has been offering successful hospitality concepts that take you into the endless world of taste. 

With over 500 locations and large customers such as Rijksmuseum, ABN AMRO, Artis, Circuit Zandvoort, and KLM- Vermaat has become one of the largest hospitality players in the Netherlands. 

This is exactly why Vermaat has a clear food vision: A sustainable future starts with yourself. They want to take good care of their surroundings. And this means; looking after each other and future generations. By implementing targeted daily improvements, Vermaat wants to become a healthier, more sustainable, and social hospitality company: ready for the future.  

“Where we suffer from obesity, food surpluses, and a lot of waste- there are countries where people are starving and cannot even access food. Yet, we produce enough food to feed all these mouths. We see an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of the food we produce and serve so that we can make the world a little better.”

Pauline Rosenberg, Sustainability Advisor at Vermaat
Photo by: © Floris Heuer – www.florisheuer.com – all rights reserved

High demand for sustainable change 

In recent years, a great deal of attention and critique has been given to the polluting effects of the food industry and agriculture. As a result, many of  Vermaat’s customers increasingly have questions about where the impact of their food comes from.  

For many hospitality companies, the largest share of their environmental footprint (scope 3 emissions) comes from their supply chain (food production). Therefore, understanding your supply chain and tracing your biggest environmental impact hotspots are crucial first steps in sustainability. 

And so, Vermaat Groep and  Ecochain Technologies entered a partnership. 

The aim: to measure the overall environmental footprint (with a focus on the carbon footprint) of Vermaat and its suppliers- and to drastically reduce it. At the moment, the main focus is on *scope 3 emissions – with all the food that Vermaat purchases and uses. This scope will be expanded later on.   

*Scope 3  emissions: are all indirect greenhouse emissions that come from your entire value chain. This includes the greenhouse emissions in your upstream (supplier) and downstream supply chain (e.g. consumers). 

Methodology 

The complete environmental footprint of Vermaat and its suppliers has been calculated by the means of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This LCA was performed within Ecochain’s Environmental Intelligence platform, with ecoinvent as the main database. As a result, the environmental footprint (scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions) of the entire value chain was mapped out. The calculation of the scope 1 and 2 emissions of Vermaat itself will still follow.  

The results in this case study are partially anonymized and summarized for illustrative purposes. If you want to know more, don’t hesitate to contact our research team.

The result: A CO₂-dashboard for customers & suppliers 

The result of the LCA’s confirmed that Vermaat’s biggest environmental impact comes from their scope 3 upstream emissions; their suppliers  (Figure 1). The total CO₂-eq emissions from their suppliers in 2020 amount to 4.86 million kg of CO₂-eq*. Here, especially dairy and meat products (chicken, kebab, and sausages) result in the highest impact. With these hotspot insights, Vermaat immediately knows which suppliers will contribute the most to reducing their environmental footprint the fastest. 

*Due to the COVID-19 circumstances, these numbers are not realistic. When Vermaat’s business operations can return to full normal, these numbers will be recalculated.   

To reduce Vermaat’s scope 3 emissions, two dashboards were developed. 

Vermaat’s customer dashboard 

With the LCA results, Vermaat built its own dashboard. Through a web API, Ecochain provides the environmental footprint of each of Vermaat’s products. After that, Vermaat links this data to their own data; the purchase per location.  

Chefs, in particular, can now see in real-time what they bought that same day and the environmental impact that belongs to these purchased products. With this information, purchasing food and setting up menus can be done sustainably. This means, Vermaat’s catering locations now have a great tool in their hands. They have complete insight into their environmental footprint and can start to actively reduce it.  

Figure 1. Vermaat’s CO₂ dashboard is developed to stimulate sustainable purchasing from customers. This image shows the total carbon footprint of Vermaat’s upstream supply chain.

The Ecochain supplier dashboard 

With the Ecochain supplier dashboard, every supplier of Vermaat can look into their own environmental footprint. As a result, Vermaat and its suppliers can analyze how they can best possibly improve their joint environmental footprint. Ultimately, Vermaat no longer wants to work with averages from the market. They want to know what their actual emissions are – and those of their suppliers. So, in order to realize this data, they want to encourage their suppliers to have their own footprint calculated as well. 

“Ecochain has ensured that the environmental footprint of Vermaat’s suppliers has become concrete and tangible. As a result, Vermaat can now start looking with its suppliers at the best possible ways in which we can reduce our joint environmental footprint.”

Pauline Rosenberg, Sustainability Advisor at Vermaat

The sustainable future is tasty

With the insights generated by Ecochain, Vermaat can now: 

 (1)   Challenge its suppliers in the field of sustainability and work on it together; 

(2) Provide customers with the right information to make more sustainable decisions on what they want to eat. Customers are now able to directly choose to make a positive impact. 

“As long as there is no benchmark, we strive to be that benchmark ourselves. To our suppliers but also to other catering companies.”

Pauline Rosenberg, Sustainability Advisor at Vermaat