Macknade, Kent’s favourite food hall, is putting environmental considerations at the forefront of its business. Changes to every area across the site are now in effect including a major reduction in plastic packaging, repurposing excess fruit and vegetables, buying pasture-fed meat and a switch to renewable energy sources.
Unpackaged at Macknade is a section of the Faversham-based food hall, which is now dedicated to dispensers for customers who want to reduce excess packaging. Customers can bring in their own containers and choose from loose grains, pulses, rice, dried fruit, nuts and pasta.
Stefano Cuomo, Managing Director and sixth generation to run Macknade, explains;
“Fundamentally, the new Unpackaged at Macknade section means there is less waste, it’s better for the environment and the unit costs are reduced. Additionally, our customers can now sample premium products in smaller quantities, instead of a 500g bag of premium pasta they can just choose to buy just one or two portions. We have a large dispenser unit with 30 products; it has been so popular with customers that we are already looking to increase the range. Our butcher and deli counters wrap produce in waxed paper, wherever possible, which is recyclable, but customers can choose to bring in their own containers to take home cheese, deli salads or slice cooked meats.”
A large section of Macknade is dedicated to fruit, vegetables and salad and most of this comes from local Kent farms and some specialist items are brought over from Italy. “With any greengrocery section there is always a small element of wastage; products get marked or bruised in transit and can’t be sold and this is where Wasted Kitchen is offering us a valuable service in reducing wastage.” Comments Cuomo. Wasted Kitchen is a food repurposing initiative run by Mighty Fine Things: owners Katie and Robert rescue any salad, fruit and veg that is still high quality but has simply been damaged and they turn it into salads, salad dressings, and dishes for the deli counter.
Macknade is working with Indie Ecology founder and Food Waste Farmer Igor Vaintraub who is helping the kitchen to reduce and rethink food waste by composting waste food and working it back into the land for local famers and growers.
Cuomo comments, “We aren’t perfect yet and we know that, becoming greener is a continual movement forward. We have to keep pushing and striving to make all the changes, however small, all the time. We know there’s always more that can be done, and we want to get to that point. We started concerning ourselves with the environment many years ago with the early removal of plastic bags and using repurposed boxes at the tills, we have come a long way since then but there is still more that can be done.
“Beef is also a hot topic when it comes to the environment, so we buy whole carcasses of Pasture Fed Livestock Association (PFLA) cattle. These are smaller farms engaged with their environment where the cattle are fed on 100% grass pasture only, instead of corn or nuts. The grass pasture acts as a sink for the CO2 emission produced by the cattle, reincorporating a lot of the CO2 back into the ground. It’s a very engaged process supporting greater biodiversity and the welfare of the animals.”
“This is a really large site and we are open 7-days a week; energy consumption is always at the forefront of our minds. About two years ago we switched to suppliers that only provide renewable energy. Green energy does cost more, and yes, we lose some margin but it’s important to us. As an independent family company we are able to make decisions on our hearts rather than the bottom line. We have to think about the environmental impact, and this feels better.”
Award-winning Faversham food hall, Macknade, celebrated its 40th birthday this year. The business has been in the same family for sixth generations, but it was not until 1979 that they began retailing – opening Macknade Farm Shop, which later became known as Macknade Fine Foods. What started life as a tent in a field on the family farm is now a 10,000sqft food hall, delicatessen, café & butcher employing over 80 people in the local area. Towards the end of the year Macknade has announced the opening of a new food & drink hub in Ashford’s Elwick Place.
For more information about Macknade, please visit www.macknade.com.