Members’ News

December 2021

Nestlé Professional opens registrations for Toque d’Or® 2022 #

Seeking high flying college students and apprentices in hospitality: Nestlé Professional has opened registrations for Toque d’Or. Attracting more fresh talent than ever, the 2022 competition is open to all Level 2 and 3 students and apprentices. But with only a few months to go, college lecturers, employers and apprentices are urged to register before the 4th February 2022 deadline.
All entrants will develop practical activity skills at their college or workplace during the first phase. As the competition progresses, they’ll learn valuable industry-led skills through a blend of face-to-face and virtual challenges. Following the Grand Finals - two Front of House and two Back of House winners will be announced at the Awards ceremony and invited on the Toque d’Or 2022 winners’ trip.  This includes a gastronomic weekend in Dubai and attend the Worldchefs Congress & Expo 2022 in Abu Dhabi. In the meantime, they’ll join foodie superstars including Anton Mosimann and Julie Jones in the Toque d’Or esteemed hall of fame.
Nestlé Professional’s Toque d’Or is unique in its focus on both Back and Front of House staff. Providing up-to-the-minute industry expertise and experience, entrants develop practical skills in areas such as social media promotion, business management and sustainable food and drink. Through applying this in a series of challenges, they also gain valuable hands-on experience and the opportunity to work with and learn from leading industry experts and businesses judging the tasks.
Since its introduction in 1989, the competition has evolved to meet the changing needs of the foodservice and education industry. Last year, it was delivered using a hybrid model where competitors learned and carried out challenges virtually from their own homes, and finalists came to HQ to meet and present to the judging panel. Alongside, competitors learned skills to help them thrive in the hospitality industry’s ‘new normal’ including social media promotion and setting up a business from home.
This year, the competition has brought forward its timeline and will retain this successful format. Colleges or employers with a winning student or apprentice will receive prizes for their involvement. And to make the competition accessible to as many students as possible, Nestlé Professional will fund all competition-related activities – including challenge ingredients, travel and accommodation costs.
The Sustainable Futures theme will be reflected across each challenge, covering elements such as nutrition, health, food waste and seasonality. And as part of its well-respected panel of judges, it will welcome back Masterchef The Professionals: A Festive Knockout winner, Louisa Ellis, alongside well-respected sommelier and wine expert, Raul Diaz, and 2021 Winners: Kenny Markham (BOH Apprentice) and Sophie Taylor (FOH Student).
Katya Simmons, managing director Nestlé Professional UK&I said:
Toque d’Or is a such a great initiative to play a part in – one of the highlights of our year! The calibre of students and apprentices we see is truly inspiring, testimony to the college lecturers and employers who put them forward.
“As well as raising aspirations for competitors – showing them what they are capable of – we’re passionate about helping them become ‘industry ready’ with the latest skills and learning. After all, they will be the future drivers of the industry. Fortunately, given our deep industry experience, we’re able to provide insight on consumer trends like sustainability and plant-based diets, as well as up-to-the-minute training on approaches like social media promotion.
“Everyone loved the format of last year’s competition. Despite the pandemic, we retained the competition’s trademark excitement and community through a mix of virtual and face-to-face learning and challenges. As a result, we’re using many of the same techniques this year. Even better, we can encourage more entrants to get involved and take advantage of the training on offer
Toque d’Or is open to all Open to Back and Front of House students or apprentices on Level 2 or 3. Lecturers must register students that meet these criteria. Employers can register apprentices, or apprentices can register for the competition themselves.
To register and find out more about the competition training, format and timeline, college lecturers, employers and apprentices must go to

Medirest to support Darent Valley Hospital #

Medirest, the NHS facing healthcare division of Compass Group UK & Ireland is partnering with Darent Valley Hospital, part of the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust. The new five year agreement  brings streamlined services and new innovations, whilst keeping people and the community at its heart.
Medirest will provide support services such as catering, cleaning, portering, security and reception – with 300 colleagues transferring to Medirest, who will receive enhanced training and development opportunities. 
Medirest’s unique patient dining solution, Steamplicity, will now be served to patients, alongside the introduction of new meal ordering technology. Created by chefs and dietitians, the meals are steam cooked with fresh and raw ingredients in under five minutes. This means that nutritional value is maximised, delivering on taste, flexibility and consistency, 24 hours a day. The menu provides almost 30 dishes across lunch and dinner, catering for a range of dietary requirements. Around 35% of Steamplicity meal options are vegetarian and vegan and it uses a closed loop recycling system for the tray packaging - supporting Compass Group UK & Ireland’s drive towards it’s Climate Net Zero commitments.
There will also be significant investment into the refresh of the hospital’s restaurant – maximising the importance of creating areas for people to relax, refresh and enjoy good food and drinks. A Wellspring restaurant will be introduced, with purpose designed pods for informal meetings; an ordering app, Time2Eat; and digital screens to improve queuing times, plus a commitment to supporting local and social enterprise suppliers, such as the Paul Rhodes Bakery, Change Please Coffee, Solley’s Ice Cream and Kent crisps. There will also be a bi-monthly street food event, featuring local suppliers.
To help improve patient flow, location specific Artificial Intelligence is going to be used, to create more efficient routing for portering and logistics tasks. This groundbreaking technology uses a geo-location system for mapping and allocating work, tracking where jobs need completing, setting up deployment and automatically updating the portering team and the hospital department requesting the job. Further innovation is being introduced with a cleaning, vacuum robot - the new technology will free up other team members to focus on touch point and cross infection hot spots.
Steve Cenci, Compass Group UK & Ireland – Healthcare, MD commented: “This partnership brings to life synergies and introduces innovation where needed in areas that are important to Darent Valley Hospital and Medirest . This practical appliance of technology will enhance the experience for anyone needing to visit the hospital. We have a comprehensive plan in place, and we can’t wait to implement it.”
Carolyn Lewis, Director of Estates, Facilities & Capital at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trusts said; “We would like to thank the support teams for all of their commitment and dedication, particularly during the most challenging times of the pandemic. We are looking forward to continuing to work alongside our colleagues as they transfer over to Medirest. This is a very exciting time for the Trust and the enhanced services promise to be both groundbreaking and outstanding. We are excited about all the innovative solutions which will be introduced as a result of the change.” 
Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust who deliver some services from the Darent Valley Hospital site will also benefit from this partnership.
In May 2020 Medirest announced it will pay healthcare frontline employees, who support the NHS, the equivalent NHS Agenda for Change rates of basic pay. Within the Darent Valley contract this will mean an uplift in pay for some colleagues.

More people going out to socialise than visiting the supermarket - 8 in 10 people visited a hospitality outlet in 4 weeks to 8.11.12 #

A new report by TWC Trends shows that four months after full lockdown ended in July 2021, 83% of the nation had visited a hospitality establishment in the last month – which is higher than the proportion saying that they had visited a supermarket, at 80%.

The younger generation have been the most active with 91% of consumers aged between 18 and 25 going out to drink or eat. Overall, the biggest driver for going out to pubs, bars and restaurants was a desire to socialise with friends and family, whilst younger consumers were more likely to also cite other occasions including celebrations, filling time and to work/study in a venue.

These figures demonstrate that despite some caution amongst older generations in particular, penetration has returned to pubs, bars and restaurants. However, what may not have returned is the same level of frequency and spend as pre-pandemic, since only a third of adults said they were going out to a restaurant, pub or bar once a week or more.

According to Sarah Coleman, Director of Communications for TWC, this can in part be explained by a rise in home entertaining and socialising at home, a legacy of the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.  She says:

Almost 7 out of 10 consumers say they have entertained friends or family at home in the last month and/or they plan to do so in the next month – this could represent consumers who have enjoyed entertaining at home through the lockdowns and indeed those that are still not comfortable going out.”

“Our data shows that home entertaining with food from restaurants appeals to all age groups, with more than a quarter of consumers saying they would happily consider ordering food from a restaurant to eat at home when they entertain

The hospitality industry has been gearing up for a big festive season but looming concerns about the new Omicron variant are leading to fears of a return to restrictions of some kind. Coleman comments:

We remain optimistic that it won’t come to that for the sake of the industry and we know from our research that over half of consumers are wanting to make up for lost time and really enjoy their festive celebrations this year. But of course, if the situation deteriorates, operators will need to be prepared for an increase in demand for in-home solutions.

This research on “(Re)-Emerging Behaviours - Attitudes, to socialising both within and outside of the home” is the first in a series of new mini reports from TWC Trends.  The TWC Trends Autumn Edition 2021 series is based on the views and sentiments of over 1,000 consumers across the UK. The research was conducted between 5-8 November 2021.

To find out more about the latest TWC Trends report, please visit

New entrance and Costa Coffee for Countess of Chester Hospital #

Compass Group UK & Ireland – Healthcare has struck a partnership deal with the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The 10-year agreement has brought a significant investment in the newly refurbished entrance, as well as opening a Costa Coffee store.
The Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has over 400 inpatient beds and provides a full range of acute and a number of specialist services to residents in Chester and its surrounding areas, including Ellesmere Port, Neston and Flintshire. The Trust has over 5,000 staff.
The area has been created to offer an extended welcoming entrance to the hospital with a dedicated reception and ‘Changing Places’, a specially planned bathroom with disabled access - with the partnership funding the development. A Costa Coffee has also launched in the space, offering visitors a taste of the high street with a range of food, such as paninis, sandwiches, cakes and fruit, alongside hot and cold drinks. This will also be available via Click & Collect in the Costa Coffee app, which will provide the opportunity for people to order and pay in the app before collecting in store.
Andy Jones, Managing Director, Healthcare Retail and Instore - Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: “It’s wonderful that we’re finally able to reveal the entrance and open our Costa on site. While the pandemic delayed the opening of this great space, it hasn’t dampened our enthusiasm or commitment to bringing a great retail offer to the Countess of Chester.”
Simon Holden, Director of Finance from the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “This partnership has brought with it significant investment in our new entrance, which will enhance the experience for our patients and staff. It will also enable us to reinvest any additional financial benefits back into front line patient care. It’s great to get this off the ground, and we’re delighted with the results.”
The Costa Coffee store will follow enhanced Covid-19 safety measures for customers and team members, including extra cleaning and hygiene practices.

Catering technology company Spoonfed acquired by leading US business targeting growth #

A Glasgow-based company whose software is used by global contract caterers, restaurant chains and independent caterers across the US, UK and western Europe has been bought by a US technology company planning further rapid growth in international markets, higher education, and business dining sectors.
The Board of Aptus Systems Limited, trading as Spoonfed, have confirmed the completion of a multi-million-pound deal with Michigan-based 365 Retail Markets (“365”).
Spoonfed has grown rapidly since its launch in 2013 and is now used by many global brands and institutions, including 3 of the top 10 globally ranked universities. It delivers significant efficiencies for a wide range of catering activities.
Spoonfed is a web-based software subscription service, founded in Scotland by Willie Biggart and Murray McNicol in 2013. Previously, they had invested in a business delivering catering to offices. In the early days, inefficiencies became obvious with manual processes leading to costly errors. With the help of software entrepreneur Steven Wojciechowski, they created a software solution to resolve these major operational issues. It worked so well they sold the catering business and the Spoonfed journey began.
Founded in 2008 bv CEO Joe Hessling, 365 Retail Markets provides a full suite of self-service technologies for food service operators. Today, the Company’s technology solutions – end-to-end integrated SaaS software, payment processing and point-of-sale hardware – power food retail spaces at corporate offices, manufacturing and distribution facilities, and more, providing compelling foodservice options for consumers. 365’s technology solutions include a growing suite of frictionless smart-stores, vending, and dining point-of-sale options to meet the expanding needs of its customers.  365 is backed by US investor Providence Equity Partners, a $45bn private equity fund, alongside their original backer, McCarthy Capital.
Spoonfed’s technology has synergies with 365’s existing product offering, and Mr Hessling believes it will add further value to their expanding customer base. “We are proud of the significant growth we have achieved to-date as we drive value for stakeholders across the foodservice industry as well as corporate campuses, and we see tremendous opportunities ahead,” said Hessling. “We have built a great relationship with the Spoonfed team, and we share an exciting vision for the business. They are an excellent cultural fit with our team at 365, and we are thrilled to partner with them as we embark on this next chapter of our Company’s growth, targeting international markets, higher education, and business dining sectors.”
The deal involves 365 taking full ownership of Spoonfed thus providing an exit for the investor base, including main backers Equity Gap and Scottish Enterprise. 365 will provide the capital, international network and support for Spoonfed to realise its full potential particularly in the US and European markets as part of the broader 365 product portfolio. Biggart, McNicol and Wojciechowski will remain involved in driving the business, working alongside Allison Sutera, Chief Growth Officer at 365.
Spoonfed founder Murray McNicol said:
It’s a cliché but it’s been a roller-coaster ride; the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular, hit the workplace catering industry really hard. This is an unsung sector, which works tirelessly in serving their customers. We, at Spoonfed, with great support from our investors, doubled down, working hard to develop the right solutions to help caterers emerge in good shape to face the new catering landscape. It’s terrific that Joe Hessling and the 365 Retail Markets team have recognized the efforts of our whole team and we are delighted to work with them to help build on the success of their outstanding self-serve product suite.”
Spoonfed founder Willie Biggart said:
It’s been a real challenge to build it from that original idea and we certainly could not have done this without our backers from Equity Gap and Scottish Enterprise and of course our great and hard-working teams based in Glasgow, Scotland and Denver, Colorado. We are excited to be joining 365 as part of the next stage of our growth trajectory. The combination of our technology, team and market position, together with their resources and capital, will enable us to offer an even better experience to our customers in the UK and USA. It’s a proud moment for us all."
How Spoonfed responded to the pandemic
The Spoonfed team burned the midnight oil during lockdown with new features and business use cases developed at pace. These included solutions to support multiple clients serviced from a single kitchen with centralized production management and reporting. A group ordering solution, developed well in advance of the pandemic, was streamlined and is now proving particularly effective for hybrid workplace meetings.
The requirement for highly flexible solutions was anticipated and one such development is Spoonfed’s ‘Marketplace’, allowing customers to manage delivered catering requirements in workplaces where multiple vendors are servicing one or more locations. And for Spoonfed, the jewel in the crown is their Enterprise application, which allows Spoonfed’s customers to manage and report on their multiple clients from a single Enterprise account.
Spoonfed’s decision to bring back their entire Development team from furlough almost immediately after the outbreak of Covid was bold but time has proven it right.
Willie Biggart concluded:
Whilst the pandemic rocked the hospitality industry, it has precipitated a real step change in the attitude to tech, with many customers accelerating digital priorities to deliver efficiencies and automation to their delivered and event catering programs. To be joining 365 at this time as part of the next stage of our growth trajectory is hugely exciting. The combination of our technology, our great team and market position, together with their resources and capital, will enable us to offer an even better experience and service to our customers and their clients, ultimately enabling them to grow further, faster.”
Advisers to Spoonfed on the deal were David Leslie Corporate Finance and Vialex Legal Services.

Bestway announces sponsorship of the Plunkett Foundation’s Christmas fundraising campaign #

Bestway Wholesale, the UK’s largest independent food and drink wholesaler, is delighted to announce its partnership with the Plunkett Foundation by confirming that it is the headline sponsor of the Plunkett’s Christmas fundraising campaign.

Founded in 1919, the Plunkett Foundation is a national charity that assists communities across the UK in setting up and running community businesses. This includes community-led shops, where the community has often rallied together to save their village store from permanent closure.

This year’s Christmas campaign will raise funds to help Plunkett in it its vital work in supporting community groups. It will also shine a light on the role community businesses play in tackling loneliness and isolation, feelings which are especially heightened during the holidays when those without friends or family can often feel incredibly lonely.

Plunkett’s members will also be invited to shop at Bestway depots and take advantage of price-led promotions and special offers in line with Bestway’s high profile Christmas campaign, launched earlier in November.
Speaking on behalf of Bestway, Managing Director Dawood Pervez, said:
We are delighted to be sponsoring the Plunkett Foundation’s Christmas fundraising campaign this year. The Foundation’s members are made up of more than 800 community businesses across the UK, over 400 of which are highly valued community retailers — just like our local independent stores — and we fully appreciate the challenges they face.
“As we all know, local retailers are more than just a place to buy essentials, they bring people together and provide much needed social contact.
“We wanted to give these groups the same opportunities as our own independent retailers as they work hard and plough their stores’ profits back into the local communities which they serve. For many, they are a vital lifeline and are an important part of our retail landscape
Speaking on behalf of the Plunkett Foundation, Head of Engagement Harriet English, said:
For many people, Christmas can be a difficult time when feelings of isolation or loneliness are amplified. Plunkett is proud to be supporting community-owned businesses in their efforts to reduce isolation and loneliness within the communities they serve.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Bestway on our Christmas campaign to raise awareness of the important role community businesses play and to raise funds that will help fund the vital support Plunkett provides to over 800 local communities across the UK
This sponsorship follows the unveiling of the recent Bestway Wholesale Christmas campaign, where depots across the UK have been transformed into a Winter Wonderland with amazing Christmas houses and Father Christmas’s sleigh that is packed with Christmas promotional products.
Alongside large digital screens highlighting special products and retailer promotions, the campaign is supported by a series of competitions, where over £56k in prizes can be won.
If you would like to support the Bestway Plunkett Christmas campaign, raffle tickets are available to buy online at There are some exciting prizes to win, including a £50 John Lewis voucher, an Ethical Addictions Coffee hamper, and a selection of food hampers. Plunkett will be selling tickets across the country and would really value the support of Bestway’s customers. The lucky winners will be announced on 22 December 2021 - just in time for Christmas.

Full details of the Christmas campaign can be found at

Compass Group UK & Ireland Chief People Officer Appointed to King’s College London Council #

Donna Catley, Chief People Officer, Compass Group UK & Ireland, has been appointed as an Independent Member of King’s College London Council. The Council is the supreme governing body which defines vision and strategic direction of King’s College London in addition to overseeing progress. Chaired by Lord Geidt, the Council comprises a mix of leading academics, staff, students, business and community leaders.  King’s College is one of the oldest universities in England and is an internationally top-ranked institution with a reputation for world class research across a wide range of disciplines. 

Since Donna joined Compass in 2017, she has put social mobility at the heart of the company’s people agenda and is passionate about delivering social prosperity for all. Under her leadership, the organisation has achieved Real Living Wage accreditation, announced a multi-million-pound investment in learning and social outreach (The Compass Academy) and transformed career development for frontline colleagues.  

Commenting on her appointment Donna said: “I am delighted to be joining the King’s College London Council. Their exceptional reputation in teaching and research globally, as well as their commitment to supporting the local community and giving back to society through meaningful service, really attracted me to the position and I look forward to supporting them.”

Professor Shitij Kapur, President & Principal King’s College London added: “We are thrilled to welcome Donna as an Independent Council Member. Donna’s commitment and passion to support people whatever their background is inspiring. I have no doubt she will bring great insight to our Council.”

Crumbs! Garden Gourmet launches vegan nuggets and breaded fillet in time for Veganuary #

With Veganuary around the corner, Garden Gourmet has launched two new plant-based versions of traditional favourites: Vegan Breaded Fillet and Vegan Nuggets.
The new offerings from GARDEN GOURMET bump up the number of menu options available to food operators, whilst satisfying soaring demand for plant-based dining. These new products will help outlets to cater for the growing ranks of vegan and flexitarian diners, whether they’re dining out in Veganuary or seeking delicious plant-based dishes any time of the year.
The meat alternative market is booming. Sales saw a 25% increase in the year to May 2021, while online meat-free sales increased by 160%, indicating a huge appetite for plant-based dining. January is a big month for plant-based dining – serving vegans, flexitarians and healthy* eaters alike. To win over these consumers and any reluctant dining partners, GARDEN GOURMET has launched two breaded meat alternatives of classic ingredients loved by children and grown-ups alike. This means that food operators can serve plant-based dishes with even broader appeal, giving consumers even more tasty options.
With more than 30 years of expertise in plant-based product development worldwide, GARDEN GOURMET is skilled at developing tasty and nutritionally balanced plant-based protein alternatives, which are high in protein and a source of fibre. Its product range includes GARDEN GOURMET Sensational Burger, Vegan Mince, Vegan Fillet Pieces, Vegan Balls, and now Vegan Nuggets and Vegan Breaded Fillet.
Versatile for use in a diverse range of dishes, GARDEN GOURMET products mean that consumers do not have to compromise on taste or texture, boosting options for vegans, vegetarians and those who are simply looking to reduce their meat consumption. As they can be cooked from frozen, food operators can also have them at hand, simply using what they need, leading to minimal food waste.
Rohini Alam, Category Manager for Nestlé Professional comments: “We’re big supporters of Veganuary and excited to launch these two delicious new products with resources and recipes to help food operators make it a big hit. But as well as helping them provide greater variety and inspiring dishes during Veganuary and beyond, we’re keen to offer products that appeal to those who are curious about plant-based eating, too. That’s why we’re launching our new breaded range of Vegan Nuggets and Vegan Breaded Fillet, which offer no compromise on taste or texture.
“As well as serving in classic kids or adult meals, these can be reworked to create trending dishes like Katsu Curry. In fact, with a little encouragement, great ingredients and skilled chefs, there’s a huge market for delicious plant-based meals. And this can only be a good thing – for food operators and for the environment
The growth in demand for plant-based products is being driven by two powerful trends: health and concern for the planet. The GARDEN GOURMET range is an excellent source of fibre and protein*, contributing to a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, and is on track to become carbon neutral in 2022.
Toni Vernelli, International Head of Communications & Marketing at Veganuary says, “Veganuary 2021 was the biggest ever, with over half a million participants. With 98% of these saying they’d recommend Veganuary to a friend, the movement is gathering momentum, and we’re expecting a bumper turnout for 2022.
“Veganuary isn’t just about consumers choosing to eat more consciously: progressive brands and food operators are getting involved too. This year, more than 825 new vegan products and menus were launched, improving the choice and quality of options for vegans. We are thrilled to see that GARDEN GOURMET is launching new products to mark the start of Veganuary. Not only are they increasing menu options for vegans but are also showing non-vegans that eating a more plant-based diet can be delicious at the same time as having benefits for the planet.

To register for free product samples, a chef demo, or to download mouthwatering plant-based recipes and Veganuary posters, food operators should go to Make Veganuary Sensational (

Two Sodexo women recognised in WiHTL Women to Watch and Role Models index #

Sodexo is proud to announce that Aoife Wycherley and Deirdre Saunders have been recognised as role models in the third Women to Watch & Role Models for Inclusion in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure (HTL) Index 2021, produced by WiHTL in partnership with the MBS Group. 

The 2021 Index features 62 women and 13 advocates for change from across the hospitality, travel and leisure industry. 

Aoife Wycherley joined Sodexo in 2011 as a buyer and over the last ten years has held a number of roles within Sodexo’s supply management team.  Since early 2020 Aoife took on a dual role of head of food procurement and head of supply chain, she is responsible for spend in the region of £150 million. 

Aoife is passionate about responsible procurement and was instrumental in the launch of Sodexo’s supplier inclusion programme in 2015. The programme continues to this day, helping small, medium enterprises (SMEs) and voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs) not only become part of Sodexo’s supply chain but providing them with valuable business advice and mentoring to help make their businesses a success. 

As a result of her commitment to supplier inclusion Aoife has recently been appointed chair of the Business Services Association’s (BSA) SME committee. She has also received recognition for her work on responsible procurement from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) as well as Enterprise Nation, MSDUK and SEUK.

Aoife said: 

It is an honour to be included in this Index.  I am firm believer that there is always something more to learn, at Sodexo we have changed the conversation from diversity and inclusion to diversity, equity and inclusion but we must all remember that having the conversation is one thing, but we must also look at the delivery piece and ask yourself, what are we actually doing to orchestrate change and create a truly inclusive workplace.” 

Deirdre Saunders is divisional director for Sodexo Ireland with responsibility for more than half of Sodexo’s employees based in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and is a member of the Sodexo Ireland senior leadership team.

Deirdre oversees Sodexo’s contracts representing €50m turnover with clients in the professional services, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and education sectors. She is also the diversity, equity and inclusion lead for Sodexo Ireland. 

Deirdre said: 

I am delighted to be included in the 2021 Index, I am very passionate about sharing my own experiences to help develop leaders in our business and in supporting all our colleagues to understand the importance and steps they can take to ensure their workplace and the wider market is inclusive. My hope in sharing my story and my experience is that I will inspire others to realise their full personal and professional potential.” 

Diversity, equity and inclusion have long-been heralded by Sodexo as real differentiators and it endeavours to make these values part of its DNA and through its Social Impact Pledge it has committed to creating social contracts that support equity, inclusion and wellbeing. 

Sean Haley, region chair, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: 

I am immensely proud to see Aoife and Deirdre included in this Index.  At Sodexo we recognise that each individual's unique background, experience, and abilities are at the heart of our vibrant workforce and truly reflect the communities we serve. Which is why we are committed to building a diverse and inclusive culture where our employees feel valued and respected as individuals. 

“Aoife and Deirdre are not only role models for the industry, their efforts are respected and recognised at all levels within Sodexo too. Huge congratulations to both, this recognition is well-deserved

Amazon: The sleeping Giant in Grocery as Younger Consumers Embrace Top Up #

A new report launched by TWC Trends – Online Explosion explores the digitisation and delivery of food and drink and its impact on the convenience retail sector.
The report looked at how trends are evolving and how consumers’ online behaviour is changing.  What is clear from the report is that online grocery shopping is not just for the main shop but is increasingly being used for top up shopping. 
38% of those buying groceries online say that they do top up grocery shopping missions online, with this proportion increasing to 42% amongst the 18 – 34 age group. One in five (22%) say they are only doing top up shopping when they buy groceries online, rising to 28% of the younger cohort.
The report also found that 30% of consumers have shopped in a channel other than supermarkets for some of their purchasing of groceries online.  Amazon is leading this charge with 13% of consumers saying they have ordered groceries from the online giant – that’s 60% more than have ordered from third party aggregators, such as Deliveroo.
Sarah Coleman, Communications Director for TWC comments that this figure is high given Amazon’s small market share in grocery. She continues: “Frequency and basket size will need to increase for Amazon to make significant headway in grocery. As we’ve already seen, appealing to the younger shopper will be key to winning the online grocery top up mission.”
Whilst 35 – 54 is the key age demographic for shopping online for groceries from a supermarket’s website, other channels for grocery deliveries such as Deliveroo, Amazon, delivery direct from a convenience store and meal kit boxes all over-index with 18–34-year-olds.  We can see from the online shopping behaviour of this cohort that we are likely to see a shift towards faster, smaller, online grocery deliveries.
Coleman continues “This is also evidenced in the type of tech that is being used.  Whilst the uptake of QR codes and live streaming is fairly consistent across all age groups, other tech such as Apple/Google Pay, voice search and buying items directly from social media posts are all biased towards the younger shopper.”
For instance, 41% of 18–34’s have used Apple/Google Pay in the last month, whilst 1 in 5 have purchased an item directly from a social media post on Instagram, TikTok or Facebook, making this age group 60% more likely to do this than the average consumer.
Whilst over half of this age cohort said the use of cutting-edge technology like Augmented Reality to showcase products is important when ordering food/drinks online (vs. 43% across all consumers), only 2% say they have seen AR in practice.
Coleman comments: “Augmented Reality has been adopted well within fashion but is yet to make significant traction in food and drink. In our view this could offer an effective way of replicating the in-store experience, which we know is the biggest barrier to online grocery shopping. Half of shoppers that hadn’t shopped online for groceries said it was because they prefer going to the shop for groceries in person, whilst a similar proportion agree that they like to browse the aisles.
“Two-thirds of shoppers who haven’t shopped for groceries online in the last 3 months think it is unlikely that they will do so next year, suggesting that online grocery penetration could plateau – at least unless some of the current barriers are addressed. Driving more online top up shops will certainly help to drive frequency, especially amongst the younger generation who are most engaged with this mission
Who can own this space is still unclear – and also whether it can be done profitably, especially outside of London and other big cities. We can’t deny that Amazon remains a real threat to the traditional wholesale and retail markets, but frequency and basket size will need to increase before it can make significant headway in grocery.”

This research on “Online explosion: the digitalisation and delivery of food and drink and its impact in the convenience and foodservice sectors” is the second in a series of new mini reports from TWC Trends. 

The TWC Trends Autumn Edition 2021 series is based on the views and sentiments of over 1,000 consumers across the UK. The research was conducted between 5-8 November 2021.

David Jones takes the helm as Pan’Artisan’s Managing Director #

Recently promoted to Managing Director, after three and a half years as Sales & Marketing Director, David Jones reflects on the Company’s journey through the challenges of the pandemic; “We have been productive in organising a strong return, making significant capital investment to increase capacity in answer to greater demand as restrictions have lifted.  This has also resulted in a bakery plant expansion to accommodate new equipment and a strong recruitment drive to address the subsequent increase in capacity. 

“Throughout these uncertain times our customers have been excellent; understanding our operational issues and working with us to get the stock needed to run their businesses.

“Although Pan’Artisan has met challenges along this rocky road and the fall out from the pandemic continues to cause frustration, I feel confident we will be ready for the next phase of the Company’s growth plans and look forward to continued success throughout 2022

For the 10 years pre-Covid, Pan’Artisan experienced up to 20% year on year growth, having established an exemplary reputation as the experts in dough.

For all of us however, especially those in foodservice, the landscape has changed dramatically.  Without the benefit of the increased sales that the retail sector enjoyed, Pan’Artisan, like many throughout the hospitality supply chain, experienced operational difficulties as a result of the pandemic. 

Yet, throughout the pandemic period Pan’Artisan took the decision to remain open, albeit with a very small, multi-skilled skeleton staff, using the time to strengthen internal processes and systems and build on hard to predict stock levels despite the ever-changing ‘tier’ systems – at times with less than 24 hours notice!

Following these tough times Pan’Artisan has successfully navigated a route to recovery and come out of Covid stronger as a business, with a bakery plant expansion underway, an upcoming refresh of the Company’s website and a host of new product launches scheduled for the new year ahead.

Sodexo signs exclusive deal with Origin Coffee #

Sodexo’s corporate services business has announced a three-year exclusive partnership with one of the UK’s longest standing coffee roasters, Origin Coffee.

In partnership with Origin, Sodexo will elevate the customer experience to meet the needs of today’s evolving workplace where coffee remains a core requirement with an upgraded coffee offer which will help entice people back to their offices when it is safe to do so. 

Sodexo is committed to sourcing responsibly and promoting local development, fair, inclusive and sustainable business practices. 

The new partnership with Origin Coffee enables Sodexo to offer its clients a premium speciality coffee offer from a Certified B Corporation business with a central ethos to source exceptional coffee through a sustainable, triple bottom line approach. 

Origin follows the speciality coffee industry’s guiding principles of Direct Trade, which as it suggests sees Origin’s sourcing team visiting producers directly within the coffee of origin, or a local exporting partner. 

Julie Ennis, CEO corporate services, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: 

Workplaces are becoming places where people primarily meet, collaborate, bring customers and guests, and there is a very clear opportunity to deliver a suite of workplace dining and guests services at the heart of that experience

Both caterers and high street chains are enticing people back with top quality coffee and we are delighted to join forces with Origin to provide our clients with a speciality coffee offer which will undoubtedly provide coffee lovers with the perfect cup. 

“The new offer will also include an accompanying food menu which has been developed in line with the high quality, world-leading coffee on offer

In January 2022 Sodexo will open its first Origin Coffee outlet at one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies based in London. Sodexo can now offer its clients four of Origin’s coffees: 

Stronghold: Origin’s darkest roast, a composition of Brazilian coffees, deep rooted with a heavy body creates a bold, sweet and intense cup.
Los Altos: a core Origin coffee showcasing Origin’s work with The Mierisch family in Nicaragua, resulting in a coffee full of warm, caramel and chocolate flavours.

San Fermin is a ‘session coffee’ created from a community of dozens of small producers in South Tolima, Colombia. It boasts flavours of orange sherbet, caramel and berries with a medium body and refreshing finish.
Das Almas highlights the work of Virgulino Muniz, one of Origin’s trusted long-term partners in Brazil. It has a consistent, distinct dark sugar sweetness and complex chocolate notes, a perfect celebration of Brazilian coffee. 

Tom Sobey, Owner & Founder Origin Coffee said: 

We’re delighted to be working alongside Sodexo to deliver a world-class coffee programme within their catering environments. We both share the same values regarding environmental and social practices and look forward to promoting our high quality, sustainably sourced coffee to Sodexo’s inquisitive and socially conscious consumer."  

Origin Coffee has a 70-strong team of coffee professionals, a world class coffee programme and an ever-evolving product range. Through the partnership Sodexo will have access to Origin’s SCA barista training and a network of trained technicians to ensure the La Marzocco espresso machines are well-maintained. 

The brewing equipment is just as important as the coffee itself and alongside La Marzocco Origin also works with some of the industry’s leading equipment manufacturers including Victoria Arduino, Mahlkonig and Mazzer.

Registration opens for Hotel, Restaurant & Catering 2022 #

Hotel, Restaurant & Catering (HRC), the UK’s largest and most prestigious business event for the hospitality and foodservice sector, has opened visitor registration for its 2022 edition, taking place on 21-23 March at ExCeL London.  
A wide range of innovative industry suppliers will be on show, covering categories such as food & drink, catering equipment, hospitality tech and, newly rebranded for 2022, design & décor. The event is also partnering with The Pub Show to cater directly to the UK’s pub and bar professionals, with insightful trend trails and content from On-Trade Consultancy. 
Visitors will have free access to over 100 talks, competitions, chef demonstrations, panel discussions and trend trails over the three days of the event covering some of the most vital challenges and opportunities for pubs, restaurants, hotels, catering businesses, public sector and more. The event will also be continuing its partnership with Staff Canteen as some of the industry’s most respected culinary experts cook up a storm at The Staff Canteen Live demo area. 
A major change for 2022 is the news that HRC will be co-located with IFE, International Food & Drink Event, IFE Manufacturing and London Produce Show at ExCeL London, welcoming retailers, wholesalers, importers and exporters to the event along with the food & drink processing, packaging and manufacturing industry.  
Cumulatively, the shows will welcome more than 30,000 key industry buyers and highlight more than 1,500 innovative suppliers.  
HRC was the last industry event to take place before the Covid-19 lockdown began in March 2020 and we’ve been supporting our industry throughout the pandemic with a wide range of webinars and virtual events hosted on HRC Connects, a new digital platform for the industry,” said Event Manager Ronda Annesley. “We’re thrilled to be welcoming our community back to ExCeL London to meet and do business face-to-face, and excited to be joining forces with our partner events for an unparalleled gathering of the food, drink, hospitality and foodservice industry.” 
The industry has welcomed the return of HRC, with Philip Shelley, Chair of NHS Food Review, commenting: 

Hotel, Restaurant and Catering is one of the showcase events of the year for leaders in public sector catering. The opportunity to have competitions and skills theatres for chefs, provides evidence and confidence in our chef development - looking forward to continuing our involvement.” 
Hotel, Restaurant & Catering is brilliant chance to learn and to connect with so many ideas and people from across the industry,”  added hospitality leadership coach and Hawksmoor Head of Culture Madeleine Geach. 
HRC will once again host historic chef competition International Salon Culinaire, which celebrates its 120th year in 2022. The competition will see talented chefs putting their skills and knowledge to the test across a wide range of categories throughout the three days of the show. 
Consultant Chef Steve Walpole said: “HRC is the go-to event for the hospitality industry. More than ever shows like this help to give visitors an insight into what’s happening in our industry from innovation and trends to food and equipment. It's an Aladdin’s cave for chefs.” 
Register for your complimentary ticket to HRC, including access to all partner events, at  

Compass Group UK & Ireland launch Foodservices Industry-First #

In partnership with leading global AI experts AiFi, the frictionless technology will enable greater flexibility and convenience for customers · Customers will be able to make their purchases faster and more easily, enhancing their break-time experience

Compass Group UK & Ireland, part of the world’s leading foodservice business Compass Group, has today unveiled its plans to launch its first fully “frictionless” store in a workplace in early 2022. This store, a first for the food service sector, is set to open in Ireland followed by additional sites in the UK over the next year, including units within other corporate clients, as well as in the sports and leisure and defence sectors.
The new stores will utilise AiFi’s AI-powered computer vision technology which allows shoppers to purchase items in-store without having to wait in line or stop to scan or pay.  The stores will typically stock a selection of both hot and chilled ‘grab-n-go’ dishes, drinks and confectionery.
A truly friction-free 24/7 shopping experience, customers ‘check in’ when entering and then freely wander through the store selecting from the wide assortment at their leisure; no scanning and no queuing to pay.  They simply leave with their purchases and a receipt is delivered directly to their phone moments later.
Facial recognition is not needed with this technology, so customer anonymity is assured. Once inside, computer vision cameras anonymously track the shopper, adding the selected items to a virtual shopping cart.  No facial recognition or biometrics are used, ensuring privacy.
The frictionless stores will be utilised either at sites where vending-only solutions exist currently, or where the new format can be included as a part of suite of options for the client, looking for a mix of self-service and serviced meal options. Compass employees will remain on hand to provide support to customers on site. The stores will typically stock a selection of hot and chilled ‘grab-n-go’ dishes, drinks and confectionary.
A Compass Ireland client workplace in South Dublin was selected as the first location for this innovative, new foodservices solution.  It will open as soon as working for home advice is lifted, hopefully early in 2022.  Trials have already been successfully carried out.

Ian Cranna, Future of Food Director, Compass Group UK & Ireland, commented:

We’re incredibly excited to be launching our frictionless store technology through our partnership with AiFi. At Compass we’re constantly looking at opportunities to offer an even more convenient service to the millions of customers we serve every day, while continuing to provide access to great food and drink. This cutting-edge technology will provide customers with additional convenience and the ability to quickly pop into our store and pick up what they need – it’s a great solution for busy workers.”
Jon Braithwaite, Chief Innovation Officer, Compass Group UK & Ireland, said:

This food-to-go solution is the ultimate in seamless shopping and forms part of our long-term digital transformation plans.  This is a fantastic opportunity for us to add real value to the customer experience through technology, by offering great quality food round-the-clock, while delivering an experience which is as quick and frictionless as possible.”

Steve Gu, CEO & Founder, AiFi Inc., commented:

AiFi is proud to partner with Compass Group to deploy our AI-powered frictionless shopping solution.  We are combining the highest level of convenience with the very best locally sourced and prepared food offerings from Compass Group, producing a win-win for busy workers”.