Caiger & Co noticed that private catering for events such as weddings and corporate dining results in the generation of surplus foods that are typically binned or composted. These ingredients are often expensive and of high quality but finding the time and ways to cost effectively reduce this waste and find an alternative to composting has been difficult.
ReLondon awarded the business a grant from the Mayor of London’s Green New Deal fund and advisory support from the ERDF-funded business transformation programme to pilot new, high quality menu items that effectively made use of surplus ingredients; aligning their corporate environmental aspirations with those of their clients.
What was the challenge?
Caiger & Co launched 7 years ago with the aim of being London’s only caterers creating truly bespoke events, curating and designing innovative and unique occasions. They take pride in working alongside carefully selected artisan producers with sustainable and seasonal produce at the heart of every bespoke offering they create.
The business has the aim to become one of the most sustainable boutique caterers in the market, already employing many sustainable and circular practices including using sustainable packaging; recycling (including food and oil waste); making use of green/electric
transport options such as the company electric van, and sustainable; and ethical sourcing from local and artisan suppliers.
The organisation noticed that private catering for events such as weddings and corporate dining generates surplus food that is typically binned or composted. The ingredients are often expensive and high quality but finding the time to innovate cost effective and delicious
ways to reduce waste through circular menu design has been difficult. Their next step was to look at what goes into the food waste bin each week and think creatively about how these ingredients could be repurposed, whilst at the same time adding new and delicious items to
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the business significantly with many catering contracts being cancelled, but it also gave the team the time to explore this opportunity and develop a pilot project which they were ready to roll out when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
What did we do?
Caiger & Co developed a pilot project to reduce kitchen waste by introducing a new range of high quality, desirable and delicious canapes items, all made from surplus ingredients that would otherwise have gone to waste.
It was made possible thanks to a grant from the Mayor of London’s Green New Deal fund, and supported throughout by ReLondon’s ERDF-funded business transformation programme.
Caiger & Co’s pilot project was also awarded Circular Food Pioneer Project status by the Food Flagship Initiative (FFI) in recognition of its contribution to driving food system transformation through redesigning menus to tackle waste and and deliver reductions in CO2 emissions in London.
During the six months from October 2021 to March 2022 the company was able to:
- Engage with more than 40 of their clients to gather feedback on their priorities regarding sustainability and food which could be used to inform their pilot
- Profile the most popular menus and identify which had the best potential in terms of volume, cost and type of surplus in the development of new menu items.
- Create 6 recipes for “Conscious Canapes”, including full costing, to determine revenue and net margin potential, and trial a model that requires selection of 2 conscious canapes out of a range of 5.
- Hold an in-house tasting and training session with their freelance chefs to gather feedback, including feasibility of menu items on a larger catering scale.
- Test the new range across various events including for the Archbishop of Westminster.
Our new range of ‘Conscious Canapes’, made from surplus ingredients, prevented almost 20kg of high-quality ingredients from going to waste in just six months – and our clients love them! The pilot project was so successful that we’ve extended the concept across all our menus and now are really proud to have a fully zero waste catering offering.
What were the outcomes?
This pilot has been instrumental in demonstrating how a business can effectively apply circular economy principles whilst improving commercial viability and delivering customer satisfaction.
Caiger & Co successfully developed and launched a new range of ‘Conscious Canapes’ made from surplus ingredients, preventing 16.75kg of food going to waste during the six month pilot project – that’s approximately 0.8kg per 100 canapes.
The company is now actively extending this concept across all their menus with the objective of creating fully zero waste menus by the end of 2022.
What’s more, the pilot has enabled the company to engage with their customer base and better understand their priorities, as well as involve their staff and chefs in an interactive and creative process of developing the new range of canapes. The pilot has acted as a springboard and given the business a renewed motivation for ongoing development and further improvement in sustainability performance.
Lessons learned and next steps
Caiger & Co has successfully demonstrated how taking a rigorous and structured approach alongside creative flair can result in the development of exciting new, and financially viable circular products. For other businesses seeking to implement a similar model, detailed understanding of the surplus profiles for different menu options is critical; how much of which ingredients is generated, and when? This provides the input for the creative process of brainstorming new recipes, to which the filters of practicality, cost and customer satisfaction can be applied. Customer engagement should also be undertaken as early as possible to help prioritise what is most important to them, and determine their willingness to pay.
Finally, timing of the pilot was a challenge, particularly in the run up to Christmas, which was a very busy time for the business, even without the impact of COVID-19. The quieter month of January gave the team time to analyse feedback from their customers and host the training session with the freelance chefs which would have been difficult at any other time of the year.
In 2022, the company plans to roll out their Conscious Canapes range as part of their core offering, while continuing to develop new recipes to further reduce surplus waste and extend the new menu options available to their clients.
Get in touch
If you’re interested in working with Caiger & Co or would like to discuss their creative new menus for your next event, get in touch with email@example.com
ReLondon’s business transformation programme is part funded by ReLondon and the European Regional Development Fund. Pilot grants were made possible by the Mayor of London’s Green New Deal Fund.