WHO & HOW:
‘Steps to organic’ is a voluntary programme for all professional kitchens in Finland – both private and public. The programme helps to collect data about the development of the use of organic products and reinforces the chain of organic food production and marketing. The programme also offers information on food procurement and knowledge on how to apply sustainable development into kitchen functions.
‘Steps to organic’ is a reliable model for increasing the use of organic ingredients in food services. By becoming part of the programme, restaurants get visibility and can communicate with customers about using organic products in a reliable way. All restaurants that joined the programme are visible on the programmes website, and a restaurants may also use programmes star logo.
The logic behind the programme’s stars consists of six steps. In the first step, a restaurant is using one significant foodstuff as organic. In the sixth step, conventional products are used only when an organic alternative in not available. In the steps between the first and the last, the restaurant is gradually increasing its use of organic products. A restaurant gets its first star when step two is achieved. The more stars a restaurant has, the more organic produce it uses.
Currently, more than 2,400 restaurants take part in the programme. Some difficulties are caused by the differences between the actors in the food services and catering businesses. These differences make it difficult to create criteria that are suitable for all actors. It seems that in food services the value and the competitive advantage of marketing the use of organic is still underestimated. Many actors in food services still need a lot of information on the benefits of organic farming.
The ‘Steps to organic’ programme is accessible over the Internet. Organisations that joined the programme pay an annual subscription, varying between 120-600 EUR and depending on how many meals are offered for year. New organisations pay a registration fee of 50 EUR. The Savo Consortium of Education maintains the programme.
Anu Arolaakso, Savo Consortium for Education
Email: anu.arolaakso [at] sakky.fi
This best practice is part of the SME ORGANICS project