General Industry

Marie Smyth Of Croke Park Meetings And Events On 50-Mile Menu Concept

By Emily Hourican
Marie Smyth Of Croke Park Meetings And Events On 50-Mile Menu Concept

Croke Park has introduced seasonally inspired and locally acquired food for meetings and events, with carbon ‘foodprint’ scores and the new 50-Mile Menu concept. Marie Smyth, Head of Sales at Croke Park Meetings and Events tells us more about the move.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of Hospitality Ireland Magazine, in December of 2023.

Tell us about your new initiative.

As part of our ongoing sustainability efforts at Croke Park, the meetings-and-events team have launched innovative menus that champion seasonally inspired and locally acquired food for meetings, conferences, and corporate events hosted in the stadium.

We’re proud to say that 85% of all ingredients on these new menus are sourced from the island of Ireland. Better again, 70% are actually sourced from within just 50 miles of the stadium. This has allowed us to create our exciting and ground-breaking 50-Mile Menu – a first for an events venue in Ireland. The 50-mile concept guarantees that every single ingredient used has been sourced within 50 miles of the stadium, including Croke Park’s own farm!


Depending on the time of your event, you’ll choose from our spring-summer or our autumn-winter menus. No matter which menu you’re choosing from, every single dish has an innovative carbon ‘foodprint’ score, such is the level of detail and traceability we have put in place. These extensive menus include innovative dishes and client favourites, which not only taste sensational, but are seasonal and sustainable, too.

Why is it important to you to do this?

At Croke Park, we take our sustainability as seriously as our sports. Not only do we have a world-class stadium, we’re also proud to be a world leader in sustainable events. Our sustainability journey started back in 2007, and it’s been one of our core values ever since.

In 2014 – six years ahead of schedule – we became a zero-waste stadium, with 100% of our waste being recycled, reused or recovered. We were the first stadium in Ireland and Britain to secure both ISO 14001 and ISO 20121 international standards. Taking our achievements to the world stage, we became the very first stadium in the world to obtain certification to the newest international environmental standard, ISO 14001:2015.

Putting sustainability on the menu is just the latest in a suite of sustainability measures already in place at Croke Park.


What benefits will this bring to you, and also to customers?

The 50-Mile Menu is our proudest food achievement to date, thanks to a talented catering team at Aramark that are not only changing the face of stadium food, but pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, in terms of both catering and sustainable menus.

For our clients, events now have a commitment to being as sustainable as possible, so we hope this will be a further incentive for them to book their event at Croke Park. The menus give people more choice and control when it comes to zoning in [on] how strong a sustainability focus they want their event to have. Not only will these new measures reduce food miles and lower the carbon footprint of an event, but it ensures those hosting meetings, conferences, trade shows and galas at Croke Park are served the freshest and most seasonal produce available.

These menus have allowed us to champion local producers, such as Boyne Valley Meats, Hugh Maguire Butchers, Kish Fish, Ballymooney Foods, Kerrigan’s Mushrooms, Garden of Eden Herbs, McCarthy’s Strawberry Farm, Taylor’s of Lusk, Iona Fruit Farm, and John Thorne of Lusk, who are all located within 50 miles of Croke Park stadium.

What has been the response, so far, from businesses?


The response to our new menus has been incredibly encouraging – especially the 50-Mile options. Clients love that whether they’re booking a meeting or a multi-day event, every menu is now seasonal, creating exceptional meals from the nourishing food growing around us. They also appreciate that we have put in the hard yards to equip them with the knowledge to help them plan an environmentally conscious event, so that their choices are informed ones.

In a competitive market, it further positions Croke Park meetings and events as a forward-thinking and environmentally responsible venue, attracting clients seeking venues that share their ESG credentials.

Do you think that people are increasingly aware of the need for action?

Absolutely, and it’s going to become increasingly important. Our clients are putting sustainability front and centre of their business, and they are seeking collaborators that have sustainability at the heart of theirs, too. We give companies that book with us the confidence, and the data, that they are working with a world leader in sustainable events, and our ambition is to keeping forging the way in this space.

In what other ways could the catering industry contribute to sustainability?


There is broader momentum toward sustainable practices in the industry, but we also have significant potential to do more – before, during and after an event: initiatives such as reducing food waste, reusable and compostable packaging, water conservation, waste separation and recycling, education and awareness, local community engagement and ongoing collaboration with clients, all of which are already in place within Croke Park stadium.

What is your impression of the industry at the moment? What are the main challenges?

The meetings-and-events industry faces several challenges, ranging from logistical issues to changing consumer expectations. Attendees now expect more personalised and engaging experiences. With a growing emphasis on sustainability, we, as event planners, must strive to find new ways to continually reduce the environmental impact of events. Our new menus are just the next step on that journey. We want to increase the proportion of produce we grow for our menus on the Croke Park farm, and we have major new sustainability projects coming on stream at the stadium, such as rainwater harvesting.

What are the main opportunities?

Being a venue synonymous with sustainability is a huge opportunity, but also a commitment that we take seriously. Like all our incredible teams who’ve played in Croke Park, we lead by example, inspiring others through our commitment and our actions. By making it a key part of our culture, stadium-wide, it’s become a way of life, putting us ahead of the game and allowing us to smash our sustainability goals at every turn.

At Croke Park, we’re on a sustainability journey here, and with our passionate and award-winning team, we’re excited to see what we can achieve next – for our business and for our clients.