With unparalleled choice, great taste, high quality standards and strict traceability, we believe our product range is the best in the industry. Our buyers work closely with our suppliers and other stakeholders to ensure environmental stewardship, ethical business practices and economic sustainability.

Sustainable and Responsible Sourcing

The term “responsible sourcing” refers to practices that help us to make sure our products are produced in a sustainable way without any negative environmental, social or ethical impacts, while preserving the excellent quality we demand. This is something which features increasingly highly on our customers’ and consumers’ priorities; as a large business we have a duty to manage our impact on the planet’s ecosystems and support responsible animal welfare practices.

We’re particularly proud of our work on sustainable fish and seafood; through working with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Sustain’s Sustainable Fish Cities initiative, we’re helping to protect and preserve seafood stocks.

Find out more about our work in sustainable fish & seafood

Our range

  • We were the first UK foodservice company to bring an MSC-certified product to market – the Fishwich, still in our range today! Over 150 products within our fish & seafood range are MSC-certified; we do not stock any fish or seafood rated 4 (eat very occasionally) or 5 (avoid) by the MCS.
  • We were the first UK foodservice company to ban many species (e.g. bluefin tuna, wild Atlantic salmon) and we continue to monitor fish stocks to make decisions about others should they come under threat. We don’t support commercial whaling activities and expect the same of our suppliers
  • All palm oil in Brakes’ own brand products is from certified sustainable sources
  • We only support meat and poultry products from suppliers who abide by the five freedoms for animal welfare
  • We pledge to be cage free on all whole egg and egg products by 2025 (Brakes own brand range only), subject to available supply, affordability and customer demand.
  • We work closely with our customers and our suppliers to ensure responsible sourcing practices are in place throughout our supply chain
  • We are certified with the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) “Global Standard for Food Storage and Distribution”, and apply the principles of HACCP Food Safety Management throughout our operation (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points)
  • Everything we deliver is fully traceable back to the supplier – strict policies on labelling and batch coding allow us to isolate any issues to particular suppliers and batches

Our accreditations

  • British Lion eggs – all shell eggs in our range are certified
  • Red Tractor – over 300 products in our range are certified (meat, poultry, dairy and produce), some of which also carry the LEAF Marque
  • MSC (Marine Stewardship Council)’s Foodservice Supplier of the Year – Brakes has won this award every year since 2014, and counting! 
  • LEAF Marque (Linking Environment and Farming) – LEAF works closely with member farmers to develop and implement farming techniques that help to produce affordable food in harmony with the environment. We source LEAF-accredited products wherever possible and in season for our fresh produce
  • GlobalG.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices) – a set of voluntary standards and certification which assesses all agricultural and aquacultural practices. Products that carry this standard have been produced in a way that minimises the environmental impact of farming operations and ensures the responsible use of chemicals

Regional Sourcing/Provenance 

Our customers want to make the most of their regions; using local products also provides them with great farm-to-fork stories to tell. Across the communities we serve, we offer local products to each where possible and when in season, without compromising on taste – but we also make the most of our national network and international partnerships to bring the best specialist regional goods to every customer.

What does this really mean?

  • A British-first sourcing approach; this includes supporting local manufacturing as well as products and ingredients. We aim to offer local/regional options in each product category – a British choice where British is available and in season. Our buyers ensure we have the best available options for our customers – now and in the future
  • Offering products local to each region. For example, we work with a number of suppliers in Scotland to offer more than 550 Scottish-manufactured products to our customers above the border
  • For Brakes’ own brand range we take a local-first approach where relevant and cost-effective, creating ranges with local provenance where appropriate. Over 65% of our own brand range is produced and packed in the UK
  • Working with our network of European partners (Constellation) to source the best of speciality European products, like authentic Italian meats and French cheeses
  • A smart supply chain that makes the most of opportunities to reduce our “food miles” – for example, trucks picking up from suppliers when they are on their way back to depots, rather than returning empty
  • Working with our customers to be their partner of choice in the UK, delivering British products to big-ticket events (Wimbledon, Royal Ascot and the 2012 Olympics to name just a few!)

Woodall’s Charcuterie

Three Oceans

Yew Tree Dairy

Outstanding British charcuterie from a leader in animal welfare, subscribing to a higher welfare standard for sows and pigs.

The first company, and so far only UK fish producer, to sign the Sustainable Fish Cities Pledge; over 75% of all their products are MSC-certified

An independent, family-run supplier with excellent farmer relationships – so much so that they have a list of dairy farmers waiting to work with them

Ethical Standards & Human Rights

Brakes is proud to be a responsible, ethical business with a moral compass – not only to meet legal obligations, but also because our customers, colleagues and suppliers (and we ourselves) expect nothing less. We protect and uphold human rights, ethical standards and labour rights throughout our supply chain.

Our Modern Day Slavery policy sets out our zero-tolerance approach to modern day slavery in our complete supply chain and the steps we take to ensure this – including in our own business – such as right-to-work checks and a preferred partner list of verified temporary worker agencies. Read the full policy here.

Supplier Partnerships

Every supplier to Brakes signs, and must adhere to, a strict Ethical Code of Conduct. This policy covers topics like anti-bribery and corruption, competition laws, health & safety and protecting whistleblowers, as well as modern slavery.

“Brakes will not tolerate the practice by any supplier of using forced, bonded, indentured, or slave labour nor will Brakes tolerate the use of physical or mental coercion or corporal punishment.” (Supplier Code of Conduct)

Our Sedex membership (a global membership organisation for sharing information and best practice around responsible, ethical sourcing) helps us to work collaboratively with others to achieve high standards of ethical practice in our supply chains.

Case study:  Sourcing sustainable meat with ABP

Working together since 2003, ABP Food Group supply Brakes with beef and lamb joints and cuts. Over the years they have evolved their practices to help improve animal welfare and reduce their impact on the environment, while continuing to produce high-quality, safe and assured products.

  • Since 2015 ABP’s Ellesmere site uses an energy-efficient CHP (combined heat and power) engine, using biodiesel from sister company Olleco and recycled refined tallow from its own operations to power the engine.
  • ABP’s “Doing more with less” programme sets out its targets for reducing carbon, water, energy and electricity usage by 2020, increasing recycling rates and investing in research to continue driving down utility usage.
  • The group’s Blade Farming business focuses on producing consistently high quality beef through a controlled supply chain operation, ensuring the right environment to allow cattle to thrive and partnering with farmers to offer a guaranteed income from calf rearing.

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