Adrian Ellis, chair of Manchester Hoteliers Association and general manager of The Lowry Hotel, on how local produce is helping to grow the city’s hospitality industrySustainability is one of the biggest movements impacting practices in the hotel F&B sector and sourcing local produce is a key way for hotels to make the shift towards a more sustainable culture.
Manchester is an ideal case study when it comes to locally sourced produce. The city is blessed with an abundance of old and new, large and small, local suppliers, from gin to coffee, honey to fish. Its hotel industry is also booming, with new players opening up every year.
As part of the Manchester Hoteliers Association, I’m experiencing first-hand the changes that the industry is making with regards to sustainability and supporting local suppliers. The Lowry Hotel is an independent five-star hotel with strong links to the city. This means we have the opportunity to pave the way for others and drive change for Manchester’s hospitality industry.
Some of the local suppliers we use at The Lowry Hotel include My Fish Company in Fleetwood, which uses UK vessels to source products from UK waters, Jack Woods Butchers based in Manchester, and Betta Veg, which offers products from farms around Cheshire.
We’ve recently started to produce our own honey alongside The Bee Centre in Lancashire. The bee symbol is hugely important to Manchester and to be able to offer a sustainably sourced honey from a local supplier is something we are extremely proud of. We’re using this honey in our food, cocktails and offering jars as gifts for guests.
We’re also working with Wignall’s Yallow, which provides naturally pressed rapeseed oil from Standish Hall Farm, 30 miles from the hotel. It’s a family-run business focusing on sustainable farming methods, reducing chemical use and its carbon footprint. It’s important to choose suppliers who are aligned with your own values, such as sustainability.
Local produce is a huge draw for hotel guests. When visitors come to a hotel, they want to experience the destination as a whole and immerse themselves in the city’s culture. A hotel can provide this immersion through its food and beverage offering. Hotels have a responsibility to promote the local produce to guests and provide a narrative through staff training, menus and materials. This will help to champion suppliers and showcase the local knowledge and expertise of the team.
There’s also the demand from consumers who are becoming much fussier with their food and demanding to know where the ingredients on their plate have come from. Naivety is a thing of the past when it comes to consumer eating habits so including full details of local suppliers and sustainability is a huge pull for the modern guest.
As well as offering added value for guests, using sustainably sourced produce from local suppliers is hugely beneficial for the business. Chefs can visit their suppliers first-hand and cherry-pick the best produce for their menu. Of course, delivery logistics also become much easier and the reduced food miles has a positive reduction on the hotel’s carbon footprint.
With the country on the brink of Brexit uncertainty, it’s never been more important for the hotel industry to support the UK economy. Using local suppliers is great for the heart, as it supports the community, but is also great for the mind as it is a guaranteed continuous supply of products with no disruption despite the political landscape.
It’s not just Manchester that can make these changes; this model can be replicated across the country. The UK has some fantastic local food and drink suppliers who need the support of local and large businesses in order to survive. If communities work together then the whole economy and its businesses will thrive.
There are exciting changes happening in the hotel F&B industry. I look forward to seeing an even greater shift to local, sustainable produce and for businesses to take more pride in the source of their