By Yvette Tan
Shangri-La Makati celebrated World Food Day by shining the spotlight on local produce. “Why would you go overseas and buy your vegetables and fruits when they are available here at a very good quality in the Philippines?” says Makati Shangri-La Hotel Manager Udo Wittich.
This is part of its continuing commitment to increase its purchase of local produce and sustainable seafood on an annual basis. “We’re trying to drive awareness of sustainable agriculture and sustainable seafood. If you don’t start looking into sustainable seafood, in a few years, there’s no more fish. If you don’t look into sustainable agriculture, you will have a problem in a few years because there’s no vegetables left because we are depleting all the resources of Mother Earth, so to speak,” Wittich says.
The international hotel chain has been actively trying to reduce its carbon footprint under its Rooted in Nature program, which advocates for the continuous increase of local and sustainable suppliers as the years go by. “As of September year to date, we have been able to increase the use of sustainable local producers by 14% over the same time last year. This means we have reduced our imports on vegetables and fruits more local produce,” he says. “We are trying to increase the frequency of what we’re doing, so basically increasing the local producers more than imports. The same with sustainable seafood.”
He further clarifies their strategy: “If you take the total amount of vegetables or fruits, we would like to have a percentage higher every year than the previous year over the total,” Wittich says. “We’re not looking into what the total amount purchased is. The reason is there is always some kind of produce that you can’t physically get in the Philippines. For us, it’s important that we are increasing on a year over year basis the total amount of produce that we purchase locally.”
For this hotel chain, ‘local’ and ‘sustainable’ are more than just buzzwords. “It isn’t a one-time offer. It’s something we do every day, every week, every month, every year,” he adds. “We like to help the local farmers at the same time while we help our business.”