Food & Beverage Planning for a Greener and Cheaper Meeting

AHendersonWBy Amy Henderson, CMP Experient

When planning food and beverage for your convention, the first thing we generally consider is what we have to spend.  There are several great ways to ensure that you are spending somewhat less, making smarter choices and making a positive impact on the environment and the local community where your meeting is being held.

Purchase local fruits and vegetables. By purchasing local produce, you are not only supporting the local community, you are getting a fresher product, cutting down the amount of energy expended since trucking is limited and shipping is not necessary, and you could also be saving money.  Yes, saving money!  By offering what is in season in your meeting location, you not only save money, but you are also providing your attendees a chance to truly experience the flavors of the region you are visiting.  Work with your local caterer to find out what fruits and vegetables are in season and customize your menus based on that.

In a recent survey that I conducted with the Experient Meeting & Event Managers, I found that the perception is – to buy local produce will cost you more. I was surprised by this perception, so I reached out to some convention center caterers to see what their experience has been.

The Chef with Levy Brothers at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA, says that the prices are actually more reasonable, since they cut out the middle man. Aramark in Portland, replied that their experience is that local produce does cost less when in season.  Oregon enjoys a mild climate and has a lot of fertile farmland so they tend to have a longer growing season than some areas of the country, so know the market you are working in.

Food planning based on history is a major key to cost saving success and being greener by eliminating waste.  Through our Experient post convention reports, we track our ordering history, consumption and final guarantee numbers so that we can continue to make smart choices and guarantee wisely year to year.  Therefore, we are saving a great deal of money due to good guarantee numbers and we are not wasting food.

The key is to know your group, have a good history from which to place your orders, talk to your caterer and make good choices based on what is available locally.  Then you will enjoy the “fruits” of having a cheaper and greener event!

Have you started requesting locally grown for your events?

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