Industrial energy efficiency: Contract catering sector

Industrial energy efficiency report identifies energy saving and carbon reduction opportunities in UK commercial kitchens

Publication date: August 2012

Carbon Trust has worked with companies including Sodexo, Elior, Aramark and Caterlink to identify more energy efficient ways of running kitchens, with the potential to save £90m or the equivalent of 425,000 tonnes CO2 a year.

Carbon Trust's Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) aimed to gain key insights into the contract catering sector such as:

  • Process operations and energy use;
  • Issues and opportunities; and
  • Existing data available for performance assessment.

Replacing electric combi ovens with gas combis and upgrading refrigeration cabinets to Market Transformation Programme (MTP) best-practice standards are just some of the ideas explored to slash energy use and carbon emissions in UK commercial kitchens.

Innovation opportunities include use of sensors in extraction linked to variable speed drives that can automatically vary the fan speed with the cooking load.

In addition, a number of new business models are possible, including incentives for clients to invest in efficient equipment; caterers to adopt best practice in using equipment; and the transfer of energy management responsibility to the caterer with the installation of sub-metering.

Key statistics:

  • Contract catering covers the provision of food services to people at work in business and industry, catering in schools, colleges and universities, in hospitals and healthcare as well as welfare and local authority catering and other non-profit making outlets.
  • Companies providing catering services are estimated to have served 1,607 million meals through 16,583 outlets in 2009
  • Contract catering sites' carbon emissions are approximately 1,300,000 tonnes CO2 per year.
  • About 40% of the energy used in kitchens is for cooking with refrigeration at 28%, extraction at 17% and dishwashing at 5%.
  • The contract catering sector is also estimated to spend £292m per year on catering energy with an average cost of 18p per meal sold.
  • Replacing electric ovens with gas combi ovens would cost a typical site £3,000 but could save 60,000 tonnes CO2 per year.
  • Upgrading refrigeration cabinets to MTP best-practice standard could save the industry 56,500 tonnes CO2 per year but cost just £1,100 for a typical site.

Read more about our work in low carbon technology innovation.

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