05 Mar Healthier Catering on the Menu for Sports Stadia in Europe
A new online benchmarking tool – the Healthy Match Mark – is currently being pilot tested at football, rugby and cricket stadia and has been designed to help sports venues provide healthier catering options on a matchday.
According to a recent YouGov report (Sports Venue Catering 2016), two thirds (64%) of supporters who purchase food at stadia thought they would only be able to buy fast food and a similar proportion (63%) expected the food to be unhealthy. A further 59% of stadium visitors feel that food in sports venues is worse value for money than at other food outlets.
With levels of obesity rising across Europe, matchday catering at sports venues has been identified as an area that clubs and stadium operators can focus on to improve the health and wellbeing of fans, staff and volunteers. Providing healthier food options can also contribute to new revenue streams and improve the social responsibility profile of both sports clubs and their suppliers.
Developed by public health nutritionists at Healthy Stadia and supported by the British Heart Foundation, the Healthy Match Mark focuses on matchday, concourse catering. Key themes include healthier catering options on sale; food preparation and healthier cooking techniques; portion and condiment control; supply of healthier beverages; pricing and promotion.
Senior catering staff and head chefs at Goodison Park (Everton F.C.), the Abbey Stadium (Cambridge United); and Lord’s Cricket Ground amongst others, have been using the Healthy Match Mark over the last month to assess their current catering operations in relation to public health priorities.
The online assessment is indexed to a set of minimum standards, in line with government guidance, and these criteris will need to be met in order to be granted Healthy Match Mark status.
Upon submission, stadium caterers will receive detailed feedback and guidance on small changes they can make to policies and practices to help tweak their matchday menus in support of public health.
Matthew Philpott, Executive Director, Healthy Stadia said:
“For many fans moving away from traditional matchday food products is unpalatable – its part and parcel of the matchday experience. But over the last decade, many sports stadia have begun to attract more and more families and research suggests they don’t always want the same thing.
“The Healthy Match Mark has been designed to help stadium caterers look at how they can reformulate existing products, by using leaner meats in their burgers and using more vegetables in their pies, but also to consider introducing new products such as fresh sandwiches, pasta and noodle pots.
“We hope that the Healthy Match Mark will help clubs and stadia to provide healthier catering options, improving the health of fans but also customer satisfaction.”
The Healthy Match Mark is currently being pilot tested in stadia across Europe. Following on from this phase, the online tool will be refined ahead of a commercial rollout later in 2018. For more information about the Healthy Match Mark, email firstname.lastname@example.org.