When we at Bon Appétit Management Company first considered taking on the challenge of lowering the carbon emissions of our business, I admit, I was hesitant. I wasn't sure what fighting climate change had to do with serving great tasting food. I was apprehensive about the complexity of the science. I was concerned about implementing a Low Carbon Diet in our cafés while meeting all of our operational goals.
I needn't have worried. When Helene York, director of Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation first introduced the connection between food and climate change to an audience of chefs and managers, they were rapt. When our people learned that the food system is responsible for one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, they were concerned. As workers in commercial kitchens serving tens of thousands of meals every day, they realized that they had the power to make a real difference.
Over a three year period we pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in the highest impact areas of our business by 25%. We planned to do this through reducing the use of foods from methane-emitting ruminant animals, such as beef and cheese, eliminating air-freighted seafood, cutting tropical fruit purchases in half, sourcing all produce from North America, reducing food waste, packaging, and lowering energy and water use.
Through the tireless commitment of our people we have made the Low Carbon Diet a reality and succeeded beyond my expectations. Everyone, from executive chefs to catering managers absorbed the scientific principles behind the diet. They embraced new purchasing initiatives and attended training sessions with enthusiasm. We provided the guidance, but the people in our cafés made the program a success.
When the Low Carbon Diet Day posters started getting stolen from our cafés and turning up in college residence halls, I knew we had a winning idea. Visiting several cafés on Low Carbon Diet Day and seeing our diners engaged with the program, I was delighted.
In our second year, we have met or exceeded most of our goals. We have reduced beef by 33%, cheese by 10%, tropical fruit by 50%, air-freighted seafood by 90%, and food waste by 20%. Next year we will put our focus on energy and water use in order to meet our overall 25% reduction goal.
By leading with flavor and educating our diners with delicious low carbon foods, our chefs have done much to get people to think about the impact of their choices. Engaging all participants in the process to meet a goal is uniquely Bon Appétit. I am proud that our company possesses the talent to meld cutting-edge, still-emerging science with culinary creativity. Through initiatives such as Seafood Watch, reducing antibiotic use in animal husbandry and, now the Low Carbon Diet, our staff has developed the ability to synthesize scientific research and create delicious, responsible food. This takes intelligence, fundamental kitchen skills and, most of all, thoughtfulness. Our success with The Low Carbon Diet proves that by empowering and engaging people to work toward a common goal, organizations can create real change.