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Catering


engagement to waste management, water and workplace resources. Alongside this is an expectation for


providers must continue to be creative,





but everything they do has to align ever more closely with their customers’ vision for the working environment


Food service ’


Author information


Andrew Brown is a consultant and commentator working within the UK facilities services sector, with particular expertise in food services.


namely sedentary offi ce environments versus manual labour, dictate the food, nutrients and portion size required to fuel staff effectively. But in order for a broad strategy around these issues to work, everything must be communicated properly via the food service provider and the client, supported with a combined HR and marketing programme using the internet, any intranet, social media and workshops – emphasising that contract caterers are working as specialists, but increasingly tied more closely with the wider business service teams (led more and more by FMs). Food service provision at work allows FMs to link with HR, marketing and even IT to put together a dynamic and value-driven workplace strategy. At its heart is the recognition that a decent meal benefi ts everyone and makes you feel better, so you work better. How this is shaped in practice is affected by the more detailed trends around sustainability, allergens and waste. Waste and sustainability issues are no different to those affecting the wider areas of facilities. Food service providers are seeking ways to cut packaging, minimise waste and track what food is not consumed and why, and at the same time working to maximise opportunities for recycling – in food, packaging, water and energy. Again, this is driven by the pressure from wider UK society to become ‘greener’. Food service providers and not just restaurateurs are signing up to the goals of the Sustainable Restaurant Association – which are aimed as much at consumers of food as the providers and are all about ‘making food good’. Performance is assessed by the SRA across 14 key areas of sustainability ranging from sourcing and community


86 FACILITIES


contract caterers to respond to EU Food Information for Consumer Regulation changes in December 2014 that demanded reform to the labelling of allergens on packaged and non-packaged food. This is a contentious issue amongst restaurateurs and one the food service sector has not fully grasped yet. In short, end users must be informed of any risk of allergens in the food they are provided. To meet its duty of care, the food service sector must adopt operational processes to become compliant – but there is also the opportunity to combine compliance with wellbeing and nutrition. The legal obligation should spur a growth in creativity in the kitchens developing innovative food, irrespective of its allergen-free advantages, that complement the customers’ workplace strategies.


A challenging market Contract catering is not an easy option. The infl uencing factors for the next 12 months remain largely the same – but the trend is towards even higher expectations from customer organisations and their respective end users. Food service providers are now expected not just to feed workers. They must provide quality food that is fi t for purpose, healthy, nutritious and allergen-free in a positive, uplifting environment. In the past two to three years the lines


between traditional contract catering and the operating styles of high street food outlets have blurred. This will continue, but there is no one-size-fi ts-all solution – food service providers must adapt to fi t the culture of their customers, making it a tougher environment to operate in and squeezing margins. Pressure to meet the socio-economic demands of the end users make it tougher still. Expectations around sourcing of local ingredients, seasonal food and education around allergens do not allow much room for error. In the end, today’s key trend is around


workplace. Food service providers must continue to be creative, but everything they do has to align ever more closely with their customers’ vision for the working environment. That means closer ties with HR, IT and facilities managers to meet the expectations they face.


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