Members’ News

July 2023

Sodexo proudly salutes its finalists in the 2023 Ex-Forces in Business Awards #

Sodexo reveals its five finalists at next week’s prestigious British Ex-Forces in Business Awards, the world’s largest celebration of former military personnel who have transitioned into civilian employment and are excelling in their second careers as part of the wider UK workforce. 

Sodexo is committed to supporting the armed forces community and was an early signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant.  

As a partner to the military for over 40 years Sodexo continually looks to support and provide employment opportunities at every level to those leaving the military and it is delighted that the following have been recognised at these awards: 

Innovator of the Year finalist:

David Almond, Secretary to the RNTF Board of Trustees, Royal Navy Trophy Centre Manager, Future Maritime Support Program 

Lifetime Achievement Award finalist:

Kevin Ayton, Food Services Manager, Project Allenby Connaught 

Lifetime Achievement Award finalist:

John Donnachie, Officers Mess Manager at Merville Barracks, Colchester 

Rising Star of the Year finalist:

James Smith , QHSE co-ordinator, Project Allenby Connaught

Team leader of the Year finalist:

Mick Wilson, Service Manager, Project Allenby Connaught 

The winners will be announced at a gala dinner taking place at the Grosvenor House, London on 29 June 2023. 

Paul Anstey, CEO, Government, Sodexo UK & Ireland said:

 “This week the focus has been on our armed forces in the lead up tomorrow’s Armed Forces Day and we wanted to take this chance to salute five of our colleagues who before joining us were serving members of the armed forces and have reached the final at this year’s British Ex-Forces in Business Awards.  We are extremely proud and delighted for each of our finalists and we wish them the best of luck for the 29 June.  

“Supporting the Armed Forces plays a key part of Sodexo's Social Impact Pledge. We recognise military-gained skills and qualities translate well into our business and this is showcased brilliantly by the finalists and the many other ex-forces leaders who are part of the Sodexo family.

“It’s a fantastic achievement and a testament that people with military careers can truly thrive in a civilian life, while demonstrating the value people with an Armed Forces background can bring to business

‘Changing One Million Lives’ event challenges what more businesses can do to drive forward social mobility in the UK #

Compass Group UK & Ireland has hosted over 100 clients and stakeholders to discuss the importance of enabling social mobility, alongside learnings and insights, at an event which marked the anniversary of the launch of its ‘Our Social Promise’ - a commitment to positively impact 1 million lives by 2030.
Held at Chelsea Football Club, the UK’s largest food service provider brought together leaders in the social mobility space. Delegates heard from keynote speaker Professor Lee Elliot Major OBE, who is the country’s first Professor of Social Mobility. His work is dedicated to improving the prospects of disadvantaged children and young people. He works closely with school leaders, universities, and employers as well as Government policy makers and was able to offer insights on how businesses can help, including –

* Developing an equity approach
* Acknowledging the experiences of people's development
* Recognising human talent comes in many forms 

Robin Mills, Managing Director, Compass Group UK & Ireland and Amanda Scott, Director of Talent, Learning and D&I, Compass Group UK & I gave an update on what Compass has achieved in year one of its ambitious commitment, what the organisation has learnt and where more work is needed.  This includes the publication of its first ethnicity and pay gap report; the roll out of a socio-economic survey among its unit manager and above, employee population; ongoing investment in skills and development, seeing over 1000 people now on “career pathways”, over 600 apprentices and over 100 employees becoming mentors. The business has also supported 330 clients move to Real Living Wage, since becoming a Recognised Service Provider in 2021. Additionally, the business has grown its partnerships as it actively looks to help those from disadvantaged or hard to reach groups into employment. Partners include Springboard, WestLea, Key4Life, Ambitious about Autism and The Oaks Specialist College. 
Katherine Chapman, Director, Living Wage Foundation, highlighted the critical role a decent wage plays in social mobility. Panel discussions saw representatives from Career Ready, Bright Blue, Direct Line Group and Deloitte discuss how businesses can play a role in unlocking the social mobility deadlock. They shared views on topics such as changing recruitment processes to make them more accessible, the importance of building social capital and ensuring organisational culture and practices create an environment where everyone can thrive.
Professor Lee Elliot Major OBE said: “We often talk about the important role of education for children and young people in enhancing social mobility within society. There is no doubt this is key, but we have to accept that this isn’t the only route and education has not acted as a great social leveller historically. This is why the role of businesses is integral to making progress – this is an opportunity, which also carries with it a strong business case in terms of the retention and recruitment of talented people.”
Robin Mills, Managing Director, Compass Group UK & Ireland added: “Improving social mobility is not something that one group can solve overnight. By working together with our clients and partners, I believe we can drive real change and we can learn from one another along the way. I want Compass to be a force for good and social mobility is now an important part of our DNA. I don’t think we can underestimate the significance of the work we have undertaken this year, at the start of our Mission to a Million journey.”
Compass’ ambitious Mission to a Million commitment aims to enhance opportunities and change lives, through job creation, education, training, community and charitable engagement. It includes gender, ethnic minority and the industry’s first socioe-conomic representation targets across its executive team, middle management, junior management and frontline roles, such as cleaners and chefs. For more detail visit Our Social Promise.

Premier Foods hosts School Chef of the Year Finalists #

Premier Foods hosted this year’s finalists at its HQ in St Albans, delivering a dedicated day to help the chefs prepare for the live final at the LACA main event which took place this week.

As part of an action-packed day, the finalists had their recipes checked by Premier Food’s Senior Culinary Advisor and SCOTY Head Judge, Louise Wagstaffe. Each of regional finalists’ recipes will go on to feature in a new Premier Foods recipe book, which will be made available via its website after the competition.

Commenting ahead of the finals, Louise Wagstaffe, said: “First and foremost, the talent on show in this year’s competition has been outstanding. LACA’s School Chef of the Year is the standout calendar event in the education catering sector, so it’s always a privilege for me, as Head Judge, to be part of such a fantastic competition.

“I’ve been really impressed with the creativity behind each of the final dishes, including how each chef has used Premier Foodservice products in their recipe. I’m excited to see them come to life. I’m wishing the very best of luck to each of the finalists

As well as having their recipes checked by Louise, the chefs heard from 2020 and 2021 SCOTY winners, Holly Charnock and Rob Chambers. In an inspiring talk, Holly and Rob shared stories of their own personal experiences in the competition, from how to best deal with the high-pressure environment of the finals, to the overall achievement of winning and how it has propelled their careers.

Holly Charnock said: “Everyone at the finals will want the chefs to do well – so it’s all about going in with confidence. Being at the forefront of school meals, it’s an incredible opportunity for the finalists to really showcase their culinary prowess and how that translates into their school food. I’m really rooting for all of them – they’re a massive inspiration to the industry!

Recognising the impact that social media has on spotlighting culinary talent, Premier Foods’ social media agency, Digital Blonde, provided the finalists with essential tips on how to effectively utilise their own social media channels to showcase their school food. The chefs were also given a brief media training session by Premier’s PR and communications agency, William Murray, to help them prepare for any media interest they receive before, during and after the finals.

The chefs were then treated to a special lunch, prepared by the Premier chef team.

Commenting on the training day, South East wildcard, James Noakes, said: “It’s days like this where everyone comes together that really demonstrate what SCOTY is all about. The competition has taught me so much, including how I can push myself and my boundaries. I’m incredibly proud to have reached the finals and look forward, along with the other chefs, to creating amazing school food that in my opinion is better quality than some restaurants.”

After receiving plenty of inspiration, advice and insights to help with their final preparations ahead of LACA’s SCOTY 2023 finals, Premier Food’s training day culminated in a series of individual video interviews, providing each chef with invaluable experience of being in front of the camera and in the spotlight.

Looking ahead at the finals, Yorkshire & Humberside winner, Kirsty McAndrew, said: “My experience in the competition has taught me many things about myself, but particularly how my cheffing days before moving into education are still relevant. It’s a really good feeling, knowing that my skills and experience as a chef apply to the work I do in schools. The finals are going to be challenging but something I feel prepared for, especially after today’s training day, so bring it on!

Sarah Robb, foodservice marketing manager, Premier Foods Foodservice, said: “We are thrilled to support the SCOTY finalists on their exciting journey towards the finals. As this year’s sponsor, Premier Foods is committed to empowering these talented chefs, providing them with invaluable resources to help them shine on the national stage. From offering valuable insights through previous competition winners, to delivering bitesize training sessions on social media and media interviews, we’re proud to be able to contribute to the growth and development of culinary talent in the education catering sector. Good luck to each and every one of the finalists – we can’t wait to see how they get on and of course showcase their recipes in our upcoming recipe book after the finals!”

LACA’s School Chef of the Year 2023 competition is sponsored by Bisto, owned by Premier Foods. The national final was held at the LACA Main Event on Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th July at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, with the overall winner announced on the evening of Thursday 6th July.

The finalists of this year’s competition include: • East Midlands winner, Lorna Nolan from Breadsall CofE VC Primary School (Derbyshire County Council) • North West winner, Paul Hardy from Tarporley High School (Midshire Signature Services) • North West wildcard, Matthew Bennett from Alsager School (Aramark) • South East wildcard, James Noakes from Maidstone Grammar School • Wales winner, Joanne Cox from Ysgol y Graig (Chartwells) • London winner, Raheem Morgan from Torridon Primary School (Chartwells) • South East winner, Mark Kent from Norton Knatchbull (Cucina) • Yorkshire & Humberside winner, Kirsty McAndrew from Oakworth Primary School (Midshire Signature Services) • East of England winner, Brenden Eades from Felsted School • South West winner, Jennifer Brown from Sarum Academy (Academy, part of Atalian Servest) • West Midlands winner, Andrew Polymniou from King Edwards VI Aston School (Chartwells

The winner was Raheem Morgan!

Sodexo pledges £100k of apprenticeship levy in support of training ex-offenders this year #

Sodexo has announced that it has pledged £100,000 of its annual apprenticeship levy in support of training ex-offenders this year.

Funds will be made available to any small or medium sized employers (SMEs) or not for profit organisations, seeking to recruit an ex-offender into an apprenticeship position. 

The announcement follows recent research commissioned by Sodexo which revealed that the apprenticeship levy gifting scheme could incentivise more UK businesses to offer employment opportunities to ex-offenders. 

The research, which was released to mark the launch of Sodexo’s Starting Fresh campaign, found that one in five (21%) of UK businesses would be more likely to hire an ex-offender if they could receive apprenticeship levy gifting funds to cover training costs associated with putting them through an apprenticeship scheme. 

The study also discovered that businesses in the hairdressing and beauty sector were most interested in receiving these funds to hire ex-offenders (24%), followed by architecture, engineering, and building (23%), finance (22%), and IT and Telecoms (21%). This figure soared to 43%, however, amongst HR professionals who responded to the survey – perhaps reflecting their greater experience of apprenticeships and the apprenticeship levy scheme. 

In terms of UK regions, businesses in Wales (27%) and Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East (both 24%) showed the most interest, respectively. 

Sodexo, which runs seven UK prisons on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and Scottish Prison Service, launched Starting Fresh to encourage and provide guidance to businesses on proactively hiring ex-offenders.   

As part of the campaign, Sodexo has created an online hub with resources for employers seeking to unlock the talent available from this under-utilised community of individuals with criminal backgrounds to help fill skills gaps and to provide them with the opportunity to find employment. One such option that Sodexo is able to offer to employers interested in proactively recruiting ex-offenders is to hold a recruitment day in a prison. 

Since 2019 Sodexo has gifted a portion of the apprenticeship levy it pays and in February this year passed the £2 million milestone. Sodexo’s approach when selecting an organisation is to ‘gift with purpose’ to those that share its social value ethos in areas such as health and safety and ensuring their workforce is diverse and inclusive. 

Large businesses, such as Sodexo, that pay the apprenticeship levy can choose to transfer up to 25% of their levy funds each year to other organisations to pay for their apprenticeship training and assessment. 

Sue Davison, Head of Apprenticeships at Sodexo UK & Ireland, said: “When we initially polled businesses on their attitudes towards recruiting ex-offenders, we included the question about apprenticeship levy gifting as we were genuinely interested to see if this could be an influencing factor. Given the results of the survey, we decided to take employers at their word and provide a proportion of our levy gifting fund specifically to those who would offer apprenticeships to ex-offenders. We can also, of course, provide support via our prisons and partners in helping connect employers with this pool of talent. We look forward to hearing from any SMEs or not for profits who are interested in helping individuals rebuild their lives in this way.” 

Organisations which have already benefited from Sodexo’s apprenticeship levy gifting have included a range of small companies and not-for-profit organisations across the UK including London Ambulance Service, Aspire Training Solutions (UK) Ltd, McGinley and a number of community organisations and sports clubs in Salford, Worcester and Bath. 

Businesses interested in applying for the apprentice levy gifting can contact Sodexo by email at

Latest Sustainability Index sheds light on industry’s sustainability journey #

Nestlé Professional recently launched the Footprint Sustainability Index 2023, providing further support to the foodservice industry on its journey to Net Zero. Launched during a panel discussion with industry leaders, the report is packed with need-to-know insights, emerging trends and opportunities. The report acknowledges that while achieving Net Zero may seem daunting, there are plenty of simple actions that organisations can take to advance their sustainability goals.
Developed in collaboration with Footprint Intelligence, the report draws on in-depth interviews, exclusive consumer research, and wider industry analysis. Designed to help businesses understand the most critical issues, it provides insight and recommendations on culture and supply chains; sustainable diets; food and plastic waste; attracting and maintaining clients; saving energy and protecting natural resources; and fostering wellbeing.
When compared to last year’s Sustainability Index, the report reveals the industry has made significant steps forward over the past year.
Last year’s Sustainability Index showed that climate change had pushed sustainability strategies into full focus. This year, it reveals biodiversity loss is being recognised as a threat to the climate, and the food industry has redoubled efforts to address this and Scope 3 emissions. 

Consumers are continuing to reduce meat consumption – for health and sustainability reasons. They’re keen to understand more about the health benefits of plant-based proteins, leaning towards businesses showing strong sustainability credentials. 

Innovation will be key on the road to Net Zero, and in the face of staff shortages, it’s important that the industry rewards and motivates employees well if it’s to attract the creative talent it needs moving forwards. 

Amy Fetzer, Head of Research and Analysis at Footprint Intelligence talked about these and other key findings during a lively panel discussion today with Julia Jones, Head of B2B Marketing, Nestlé Professional, Philip Rowden, Global Food Sustainability and Wellbeing Manager, ISS and Rachel Eyre, Sustainable Procurement Manager, Compass Group UK&Ireland.

Talking about their organisation’s learning and sustainability successes, attendees agreed that the industry has made strong progress over the last year, and that sustainability remains an important driver for success, despite current economic pressures.
Katya Simmons, managing director of Nestlé Professional UK&I, said:
"Last year was one of the toughest ever for foodservice and hospitality businesses, with inflated costs and supply shortages continuing to impact the industry. Despite these challenges, it's heartening to see our industry’s commitment to Net Zero has remained strong.
"We’ve packed the Sustainability Index with examples and tools to support foodservice leaders on their sustainability journey. Now it’s important that we continue to collaborate and work together on our journey towards Net Zero – sharing successes and finding creative solutions to the difficulties our industry faces now and in the future.
To view and download the Sustainability Index report, food operators can go to: Footprint Sustainability Index 2023 | Nestlé Professional ( 

Dr. Oetker Professional launches two new Chocolate Chip Mix Inclusions #

The UK’s leading food service baking and pizza brand, Dr. Oetker Professional, has announced the expansion of its baking collection, with the launch of its brand-new Dr. Oetker Professional Ultimate Inclusions, Billionaire’s Chocolate Chips Mix and Rainbow Chocolate Chips Mix.
The expansion of the range comes as research suggests consumers are looking to get more out of their out of home occasions and dining experiences, expecting more for their money in terms of quality and experience. Menu trends data also suggests that consumers want more variety and excitement in their baked goods, with 75% of consumers willing to pay more for higher quality food.
Targeting a key gap in the market, Dr. Oetker Professional recognised that many out of home operators are now adding premium desserts to their menus, to boost spend per head, with the new range offering an opportuntiy to provide customers with more exciting and indulgent treats and dessert options.
Dr. Oetker’s Billionaire’s Chocolate Chips Mix includes a range of real dark and white chocolate chips, plus delicious toffee chunks and gold pearls for a deliciously decadent taste.
Dr. Oetker’s Rainbow Chocolate Chips Mix boasts a variety of flavours, from white chocolate chips to multi-coloured crunchy chocolate beans, sugar strands and strawberry flavoured crunch, making it the perfect solition for adding some personality to everything from tray bakes to milkshakes.
Both newly launched mixes offer a variety of multi-layered textures, colours and flavours and are specially formulated to hold their shape when baked. Ideal for using in a wide range of desserts and even drinks as a decorative sprinkle, the new products are perfect to be added to anything from cookies, brownies, blondies and tray bakes, loaded waffles, indulgent pancakes, doughnuts, icecreams and sundaes, milkshakes and freakshakes, hot drinks and even cocktails!
The new chocolate chips are made of up to 41% cocoa solids, with both free from artificial flavours and preservatives. Both products are all fully Rainforest Alliance Certified come in a recyclable packaging, reinforcing Dr. Oetker’s dedication to ethically and sustainably sourced products and packaging.
Dr. Oetker Professional Ultimate Inclusions (MRRP: £11.99) will be available in all leading national and regional wholesalers from September 2023. Available in Billionaire’s Chocolate Chip Mix 6 x 750g and Rainbow Chocolate Chip Mix 6 x 850g.
Richard Cooper, Senior Brand Manager at Dr. Oetker Professional said: “We’re really excited about the expansion of our range, with these new additions a must have for out of home operators who are looking to elevate their menu offerings. Whether it be traybakes or cocktails, puddings or icecreams, our new mixes offer a simple and versatile solution for businesses who want to offer something new and exciting for their customers.”
For more information on how to get this new product for your business, please visit the Dr. Oetker Professional website.

Kraft Heinz launches Heinz Selection to connect independent burger houses to burger-loving consumers #

Heinz today announced the launch of Heinz Selection in the UK. Celebrating restaurants dedicated to making the most delicious burgers, it connects local, independent burger houses with the world's best loved sauce brand. Alongside, it provides exclusive insight, merchandise and promotional support, so they can tempt more consumers in to enjoy what they do best: great burgers.
Originating in Latin America in 2019, Heinz Selection now connects more than 377 independent burger houses across 22 countries. Burger fans can search for restaurants with the Heinz quality stamp of approval on the website and app. Heinz Selection operators remain independent but become part of a global chain. As a selected partner, they also get exclusive access to dine-in merchandise, product discounts, limited time offers (LTOs), and the Heinz quality stamp of approval for use in marketing.
To launch Heinz Selection, Kraft Heinz has created a playbook - 'Sizzling Stacks: Creating Mouth-watering Trend-Inspired Burgers.' Available to all new Heinz Selection members, it’s packed with exclusive insight, culinary tips and industry leading advice. All aimed at helping operators create irresistible burgers that boost sales and get the most out of their offer.
Tom Franklin, Director of Foodservice at Kraft Heinz says. “We love independents. It's great seeing the creative new stacks they're coming up with and watching them satisfy different appetites and tastes with new concepts and fusions.”
“Consumers value independent joints, but they also love and trust Heinz. As a globally renowned brand, we have established networks, a strong infrastructure, and exclusive access to insight. We’re excited about this opportunity to start sharing this with independents, so we can become partners in their continued success
The selection process has begun. For a chance to become part of Heinz Selection, operators should register their interest here.

1 million meals saved by Compass and Foodbuy in partnership with FareShare #

FareShare and Compass Group UK & Ireland, alongside its procurement business, Foodbuy, have worked together to redistribute the equivalent of 1 million meals to FareShare’s network of 8,500 charities and community groups.
Working with FareShare since 2014, Compass and Foodbuy have now supported an estimated 3,214 charities all over the UK. These charities provide vital services to people facing food insecurity as well as wraparound services such as debt advice, mental health support and groups for young people and the elderly. With much of the food being surplus, that might have otherwise gone to waste, donations include items ranging from cheese to ready meals, as well as fresh fruit and bread.
Simon Millard, Food Director, FareShare, commented: “We are so grateful to Compass and Foodbuy for their support over the years. The high-quality food that we consistently receive is always welcomed with open arms by the charities that FareShare supports.
Ashleigh Taylor, Head of Environment, Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: “We always work to avoid food waste, but redistribution is a vital tool for us when waste can’t be helped. Our longstanding partnership with FareShare is a great example of success and I am so pleased that our work together has helped so many charities and people.”
In October 2022, Compass Scotland also announced it had set up a separate partnership across its sites to support the charity. Compass Cymru works closely with FareShare Cymru. Compass Ireland also donated over €5,000 worth of food to charities in the past year.
Tackling food waste is an important part of Compass Group UK & Ireland’s Climate Net Zero by 2030 ambition, which includes a commitment to halve food waste. Compass’ teams across the business aim to stop food waste through preventing, recovering and recycling. Only when food waste is unavoidable, do teams turn to redistribution and recycling.
At site level Compass has committed to the roll out of its food waste recording system, which supports the accurate measurement and reduction of waste. To understand why and how it occurs, the system has now evolved to show which stages of foodservice produce the most waste, to create specific and targeted interventions. This means Compass will now report on food waste across five categories: out of date; plate; post-production; pre-production; and retail.
Compass Group also created the initiative Stop Food Waste Day, which aims to raise awareness and share solutions around this important issue - STOP FOOD WASTE DAY
In April Compass Group UK & I announced that combining donations to all its food redistribution partners such as FareShare, Olio, To Good to Go and local charities it had redistributed over 1 million meals overall.

From farm to froth! Glebe Farm to package oat drinks at Cambridgeshire farm with new Tetra Pak facility #

Glebe Farm Foods, the British producer of award-wining oat drink PureOaty, is making a multi-million pound investment into its second-generation Cambridgeshire farm, to bring its entire production process on one site for the first time. Packaging for PureOaty is set to take place on farm grounds, where the oats are also grown and milled. 

Thanks to a new Tetra Pak filling line, part of the brand new facility on the farm, PureOaty will be the only British oat drink which is fully produced on a single site in the UK. This will further reduce the product’s food miles– with now just 300 metres between oat milling and where the oat drinks are packaged. 

The independently run business, led by siblings Rebecca and Philip Rayner, expects the cutting-edge packaging plant to open in August this year. With the capacity to pack 10,000 litres per hour, it will produce fully sterile packs for 12-month ambient storage in both 1L and 500ml Tetra Pak’s. 

The plant will introduce tethered caps across all the brand’s packs. These innovative caps stay attached to the carton to make recycling easier and reduce litter - further amplifying Glebe Farm’s commitment to sustainability. 

The facility will create the opportunity for the business to co-pack for other manufacturers or retailers for the first time, generating an increase in capability in the UK plant-based co-packing sector. 

Philip Rayner, Co-owner and Managing Director of Glebe Farm, said: “Our new plant is an investment in meeting a growing demand for oat drinks as part of a plant-based diet. We know that more and more people in the UK want to know where their food and drink comes from and how it’s made. At Glebe Farm, we’re proud that our oats are 100% sown, grown and milled in the UK. We’re even prouder to now be able to say that oat drinks will leave our Cambridgeshire farm ready to be enjoyed, without being processed anywhere else. 

“Not only will our new facility enable us to produce in greater quantity, but it’ll help us do so in an even more sustainable way. We won’t need to take our oat drinks elsewhere to be packaged, which will mean they’ll have the lowest food miles of any oat drink brand in the UK. The initiation to use the new tethered caps, set to be the standard across all our oat drinks, will boost the recyclability of our packaging. 

“This upgrade is a big step for us as an independent UK producer, and we’re all really excited about where it will take us next

Awantika Chadha, Sustainability Manager at Tetra Pak, said: “Decarbonising food systems is a key priority for Tetra Pak and Glebe Farm, and taking steps to move packaging onsite will help minimise the food miles travelled in production. Our technologies and packaging innovations will help Glebe Farm to improve efficiencies and reduce the business’ impact on the environment.” 

The Purest British Oats

Many of the oat-based products on supermarket shelves today are milled and manufactured at facilities that also process grains like wheat, barley or rye. This can lead to contamination of the oats meaning they lose their purity and become unsuitable for the 1 in 100 of people who are coeliac.

100% sown, grown, milled and packed in the UK, the farmers at Glebe Farm know where every single oat that goes into their products comes from. That means every oat is guaranteed to be of the best quality and 100% gluten-free. Even better, being British grown and produced means they have the lowest food miles on the market, making them the top choice for sustainable oat products. 

For more information about Glebe Farm and its range of award-winning products, visit

Lexington Catering partners with The Gut Stuff and creates the Gut Loving Kitchen #

Leading caterer, Lexington Catering, is the first caterer to partner with The Gut Stuff to create food choices that are good for the gut and to help educate customers on the importance of choosing food that positively supports their gut health.
The Gut Stuff, a B Corp Certified company, was founded by twins Alana and Lisa Macfarlane with the aim of educating consumers about the importance of gut health and what action can be taken to promote positive gut health.  
Lexington Catering has developed the Gut Loving Kitchen concept, with the support of its partner the Gut Stuff, and trialled it initially at one client site - Linklaters. Both Lexington and the Gut Stuff aim to promote the importance of consuming food that is high in fibre, has a variety of plant-based ingredients and includes ferments as these are all beneficial for good gut health.  
Dishes that are good for the gut are labelled to help customers make informed choices and customers have access to leaflets that provide additional information on this topic.
Steven Snowdon, Lead Development Chef for Lexington Catering, said: “The Gut Loving Kitchen is a fantastic concept which will help our customers look after their guts. We have combined our culinary expertise with The Gut Stuff’s knowledge to create nutritious choices that will help to promote positive gut health; the food prepared in the Gut Loving Kitchen reflects what The Gut Stuff stands for and helps customers make choices that are both healthy and delicious.”
Co-founders Alana and Lisa said: “Gut Health is linked to mental health, dementia, immunity and many other diseases and it is critical that we educate people to understand the food choices that are good for their guts. We are excited by Lexington’s passion to educate its customers on this important issue and that they share our commitment to encourage customers to change their eating habits to support positive gut health.”
Sharon Scott, Contract Manager for Linklaters, said: “We are excited to trial Lexington’s Gut Loving Kitchen concept at Linklaters. We are committed to serving food that is both tasty and healthy and it is clear that our employees are increasingly interested in gut health. Feedback has been very positive with many employees choosing the Gut Loving Kitchen options for lunch.”
Matt Wood, Managing Director of Lexington Catering, said: “Workplaces are where many individuals eat their lunch on a regular basis and so we have a unique opportunity to educate customers about healthy eating and to help them to form healthy habits that promote good health such as positive gut health.”
Following the successful pilot, Lexington Catering is now planning to roll out this concept to other sites where it provides catering.

Unitas wholesalers ride a wave of “buoyant optimism” to Athens conference #

Unitas’ independent wholesalers are investing, expanding and seeing real growth – and are inviting suppliers to share their success at the Annual Conference in Athens, 15-19 September.
Speaking at the group’s recent Senior Supplier Briefing, Unitas Chairman Mark Aylwin said:

Over the past 12 months, our members have opened more depots and invested more in leading edge technology than the rest of the wholesale market put together. They are embracing technological advancements to enhance efficiencies, while ever-more accessible data and technology is enabling them to compete head-to-head with the largest operators.”
Unitas MD John Kinney added: “There’s a real buzz in the independent channel. That's where we see the growth.  When I speak to our Foodservice and On Trade members, there is a real buoyant optimism that they're picking up business.”
Simon Hannah of JW Filshill told guests: “We’re seeing just how much more people are shopping in convenience. It is smaller basket spend, but it is more regular and more footfall and that's the opportunity for us. When shoppers are tight for cash, they're going to shop more locally. Convenience is the new loyalty.
Their comments were backed up by new data from TWC which shows Unitas performing ahead of the market for value and volume in both Out of Home and convenience.
The Annual Conference offers market insight, channel-specific discussions, and opportunities to build stronger business and personal relationships against the idyllic backdrop of the Greek capital.
With one-to-one Meet the Member sessions scheduled throughout the weekend, there are opportunities for wholesalers and suppliers to get to know each other in depth. Those relationships can be strengthened even further with a series of social events and excursions.
Presentations from wholesalers will explore how Unitas members are achieving better growth than their multiple rivals and aiming higher than ever on sustainability targets, diversity and wellbeing in the workplace, and customer service. The Unitas team will unveil strategic and category-focussed plans for the year ahead.
Expert speakers will explore the economic, legislative, environmental and technological landscape, and suppliers will be invited to join discussions on the Retail and Out of Home markets, fuelled by latest customer and consumer research.
John Kinney says: “While other routes to market are struggling in a volatile market, Unitas’ independent wholesalers offer flexibility, scalability and new opportunities, backed by all the resources and expertise of the Central Office. Wholesale is the place to be this year – and so is Athens.”
The Unitas conference takes place at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Athens from 15-19 September. Suppliers can find out more about the business agenda and social programme from their usual Unitas contacts or at

Délifrance introduces new irresistible Almond Pain au Chocolat for those seeking indulgent moments #

Leading baked goods manufacturer, Délifrance, has announced the launch of its Almond Pain au Chocolat to satisfy the growing consumer trend for indulgent moments.
A traditional pain au chocolat style pastry with a delightful chocolate and almond-filled centre, the new product is ideal served as a morning breakfast treat or an afternoon snack. To further elevate its appeal, the Almond Pain au Chocolat is generously sprinkled with crunchy, toasted almonds, adding a textural contrast that complements the overall taste experience.
The announcement comes after Délifrance’s own research into the breakfast market, which revealed how indulgence had gained significant traction post-pandemic. As a result, Délifrance has innovated to help operators appeal to a broader range of consumers, from those who like to treat themselves during the weekends, to the OOH breakfasters who seek more gratifying treat moments while eating out.
Stéphanie Brillouet, marketing director at Délifrance says: “Indulgence has become a prominent trend in the baked goods industry, with more consumers actively seeking out rewarding eating experiences. With an understanding of this evolving demand, as well as the rise in popularity of almond and chocolate pastries in artisanal bakeries, Délifrance is delighted to announce the launch of our newest addition, the Almond Pain au Chocolat – the ultimate indulgent delight to complement our premium viennoiserie portfolio. We look forward to seeing our latest bakery offering enhance eating experiences and leave a lasting impression among consumers.”
The product is now available via Délifrance from national wholesalers. Sold frozen in boxes of 60, the ready to bake Almond Pain au Chocolat is ideal for food-to-go operators and retailers looking to elevate their breakfast menus and snacking options.
For more information visit:

Sustainability initiatives key to attracting and retaining hospitality staff #

Better sustainability credentials and communication could hold the key for hospitality operators to attract staff, reduce turnover and ultimately increase retention, according to a report from leading food service technology provider, Nutritics, and hospitality data and insights consultancy CGA by NIQ. 

The report, Sustainability Matters: What teams want and how brands can win, surveyed UK hospitality employees and found that hospitality brands and operators who make a positive environmental impact are more likely to recruit and retain employees than those who do not.

The report makes it abundantly clear that sustainability really does matter to hospitality workers. More than nine in ten (94%) hospitality professionals say living an environmentally friendly and sustainable lifestyle is important to them, notably more than the 70% of consumers who say they actively try to lead an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

While a competitive salary, recognition and job satisfaction are typically key motivators for employees to consider staying in a role, it is perhaps no surprise that almost all employees surveyed (94%) say that a company’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility is a significant factor when deciding where to work. What’s more, half (50%) have accepted one job over another partly because the company was more sustainable.

Sustainability is also crucial to retention, with 84% of hospitality professionals saying they would be more likely to stay in their job for longer if their employer has and continues to create a positive environmental impact. With operators looking to reduce costs wherever possible, better environmental practice could help reduce recruitment costs significantly.

Commenting on the findings, Stephen Nolan, CEO of Nutritics, said: "Staff are crucial to any brand’s engagement on this urgent challenge. They are the people who will ultimately deliver sustainability strategies, and they know what guests want best. They are also highly stimulated by environmental issues, and younger workers in particular are much more likely to be attracted to employers who share their concerns. As we show in this report, good sustainability practice can be a very powerful recruitment and retention tool.”
In addition to identifying employee trends, the report also provides operators with potential answers and solutions.

Employees want to work in an environment that reflects their own ethics and values. However, with so many potential areas of focus, it can be difficult for operators to know where to start. The report seeks to point businesses in the right direction, by asking hospitality workers what they feel are the most important subjects to tackle. Recycling, reducing food waste and sustainable packaging (91%) emerged as the top priorities, so better stock planning and menu management, making recycling facilities easy and visible, cutting the use of plastic and identifying recyclable alternatives are all ways in which an employer can demonstrate their responsibility.

There is also a real enthusiasm for staff training and education (87%), a welcome sign that frontline teams want to be part of the sustainability journey. Plenty of online or in-venue training packages are available, including Knowledge Labs by Nutritics, to help staff understand more about Net Zero and cutting carbon footprints. 85% want to work with sustainable suppliers, while 84% favour local or sustainably sourced ingredients, showing the opportunity for buyers to work with suppliers and demonstrate good sourcing and labelling, both on menus and back-of-house.

An encouraging 82% of hospitality employees see their workplace as a sustainable and environmentally friendly venue, however, only a quarter (27%) think their workplace is proactive in reducing waste and energy and prioritising ethical sourcing. This ‘action gap’ is a common theme, showing that there is currently a gulf between what staff think is important, and what actually happens in practice. 

For example, while 82% of team members think links with community sustainability initiatives are important, only 21% observe them at their business - a huge gap of 61 percentage points. On other issues like providing access to environmentally friendly transport, using local and sustainably sourced ingredients and staff training and education, the number of staff who see action is less than half those who think they are important. More positively, the gap between importance and action on recycling is just nine percentage points, and it’s relatively narrow on food waste reduction too. But these figures are conclusive proof that team members are not seeing nearly enough progress on the sustainability issues they care about.

Stephen Nolan concluded: “There are real opportunities for operators to engage their people and go on this sustainability journey together. Sustainability can be a recruitment tool, and needs to be part of retention strategies too, so communication with teams on sustainability issues is key.
“Staff are willing helpers on the mission to make hospitality more sustainable – they’re personally committed and grasp consumers’ concerns, so giving them the freedom to suggest and deliver initiatives can accelerate meaningful change

Elior UK provides catering and hospitality services at BT Murrayfield for record-breaking concert attendance #

Elior UK, the official hospitality partner of Scottish Rugby, successfully delivered the catering and hospitality services for a series of four concerts within a 10-day span at BT Murrayfield stadium. This included Scotland's largest concert attendance ever, with over 65,000 fans gathering for the Harry Styles' concert on Saturday 27th May.

Scottish Rugby hosted over 250,000 fans across all four events. Elior UK was very proud to be part of this achievement providing the food and drink for the fans and hospitality guests including the serving of a record-breaking number of guests at Bruce Springsteen’s concert on Thursday 30th May.

Kenny Finlayson, Managing Director for Elior UK’s stadia and leisure business, expressed his gratitude to the Elior team at Murrayfield for their pivotal role in ensuring the success of these concerts. He remarked, "Hosting four concerts in 10 days while serving over 250,000 fans and a record number of hospitality guests is a major achievement. We take immense pride in the hard work and dedication of our team, who were responsible for numerous aspects of the customer experience, ranging from event space theming to creating and serving a diverse range of food and drinks in a busy environment."

To enhance the concert experience for hospitality guests, Elior UK implemented a simplified e-commerce journey for pre-event hospitality bookings and introduced a new meet & greet app, developed in-house prior to its launch at these concerts. The app significantly improved guest arrival experience by 50%, ensuring a seamless and expedited process. Additionally, this enabled the introduction of additional pop-up bars throughout the stadium, effectively reducing queues and meeting the huge demand. This included pop up bars on the stage floorspace that were added for the first time during the Beyonce concerts, selling a wide range of cocktails and other drinks.

Mark Laidlaw, Director of Stadium Development & Operations for Scottish Rugby stated: “This year’s concert season was a great opportunity for us, and I am delighted with the commitment and results across both organisations.”

Elior UK's successful collaboration with Scottish Rugby reflects their unwavering commitment to providing exceptional hospitality experiences.

Mondelēz International, - the right snack, for the right moment #

Mondelēz International is proud to join Arena and look forward to working with many of its members.

At Mondelēz International, we seek to ‘offer the right snack, for the right moment’ with our wide portfolio that spans the chocolate, biscuits, candy, cheese and beverages categories with iconic brands including Cadbury, Philadelphia, OREO, belVita, Ritz, Green & Black’s and Maynards Bassett’s. We put our customer and consumers’ needs at the heart of all we do, and work with our partners to help drive value to their businesses. 

We have a deep understanding of both category and consumer trends, investing in a wealth of research which we then use to develop our brands and product offers so that they are relevant for today’s needs and fit for the future. Sustainability is a key strategic pillar of our business; all of the cocoa in Cadbury chocolate is sourced through our Cocoa Life programme which was set up to secure the sustainable supply of cocoa. Through the programme, we now work with over 200,000 farmers across the world. Additionally, 65% of our biscuit products in the UK use wheat sourced through our Harmony programme, a sustainable wheat farming initiative.
Whether you’re looking for a food-to-go offering, vending options, unattended retailing or even a high-end after dinner treat, you can get in touch with us by contacting Jo Roffey at

Research reveals human connection is missing link to building a future-proof workplace #

New research from Sodexo reveals UK employees still prefer remote working and are more cost-conscious than ever. 

Sodexo’s new Work Experience Tracker research, conducted in collaboration with YouGov, revealed that out of the 3,000 respondents in the UK 1 in 5 were dealing with poor mental and physical health, 20% are quiet quitters and 23% stated they wanted to quit. 

These issues are likely to impact business performance and business leaders need to reflect on the causes and take action to improve employee experience. 

A big question for many employers in 2023 still remains ‘how do we bring people back to the office?’ Sodexo’s research reveals the top reasons which would help draw workers back in, with synergy between people, space and sustainability core to building a future-proof workplace, driving business performance and employee experience.  

Two thirds of those surveyed said they were satisfied with their current working pattern. 58% continue to work a hybrid pattern, however 36% stated they would come into the office more to connect with other people. 

This is corroborated in the 71% of those questioned stating the greatest satisfaction in their workplace experience was from team spirit and collaboration.  36% said they would like the opportunity to socialise, a similar number (35%) noted that they would like to be offered free or subsidised commuting, and 23% said the same about food. 

Julie Ennis, CEO Corporate Services, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “Interestingly the tracker research shows us that 43% of workers are only somewhat satisfied with their workplace experience. This is a risk for employers as these workers could move to become quiet quitters, but why is this group being overlooked? The question we need to ask ourselves is what piece of the puzzle are we missing?” 

58% of those surveyed are working a hybrid pattern. 20% of respondents appear to be quiet quitters, those who say they will stay in their job and do the bare minimum. Interestingly 43% of quiet quitters work a hybrid pattern and the greatest proportion (38%) are boomers. 

With the research revealing differing preferences for quiet spaces or lively, creative and collaborative environments it is essential that business leaders adopt a balanced approach factoring in wellbeing when looking at remote and in-person work and avoid adopting a one-size-fits-all approach when developing their workplace strategies. 

The YouGov findings were also validated by Sodexo’s own observations through sensor data at its London head office which shows the consistent motivation for workers going into the office is about seeing their work colleagues. 

Julie Ennis, explains: “Before the pandemic, we were already witnessing a shift in the nature of workplaces and the need to be future ready. To help businesses adapt, we developed Vital Spaces - a strategic approach to transforming workplaces and preparing for changing futures. 

“Using Vital Spaces we redefined our London head office during the pandemic. Early surveys hinted at a new trend for the office to become a social hub, a place for health and wellbeing and a crucible for culture. Using data sensors from the office we are seeing this trend come to life with people gravitating towards the collaborative areas rather than the traditional workspaces

The final cornerstone for building a future-proof workplace is sustainability. Sodexo’s Work Experience Tracker examined the drivers around employment choices and found that 78% of those surveyed find sustainability personally important and half of respondents expecting their employer to act responsibly. 

Specifically, responsible energy use, waste management and reduction of plastic usages at workplace are the top three expectations from employees. 

At a recent summit held by Sodexo Corporate Services, CEO Julie Ennis and special guest renowned futurist Anne Lise Kjaer discussed the research and what factors business leaders need to consider to future-proof their workplaces at a recent virtual summit.

Anne Lise Kjaer is CEO and founder of Kjaer Global which has been providing businesses and governmental institutions with insights to drive new models for innovation for three decades.  

Anne Lise shared her predictions to simplify the complex trends of future, business and innovation.  She shared with the attendees her thoughts on tomorrow’s futureproof organisations being those that realise the future is now and which are adopting an approach which factors in people, planet, purpose alongside profit.   

Julie Ennis concludes: “This latest research and the insights discussed at our recent virtual summit with Anne Lise lay clear that a future-proofed workplace centres on a human-centric approach with the interplay of people, space, and sustainability at the core. The future of work is about adapting to these pillars and proactively evolving with them.” 

Sodexo has taken the results of its Work Experience Tracker and produced a report which can be downloaded here.

Sodexo’s forward-thinking and innovative Vital Spaces proposition aims to boost the employee experience and enhance productivity and comprises an ecosystem of workplace services.

Insights Lab by Egg Soldiers: Five dessert innovation thought-starters for 2023/24 menu development #

Insights Lab by Egg Soldiers, the pioneering food trends service from one of the UK’s top independent food agencies, has been identifying dessert development opportunities for 2023/24, with evolving consumer priorities amid the cost-of-living crisis driving necessary innovation within hospitality.

In a dedicated article, which can be accessed here for free; Kateline Porritt, Head of Trends at Egg Soldiers, says: “During a cost-of-living crisis, translating UK dessert trends can be tricky business, with consumers continuing to curb weekly spending habits to save money.

“Non-essentials are always the first to go, and it's clear that many restaurants are now trimming back on the number of sweet options available on à la carte menus, often eschewing larger, more complicated numbers in favour of small, sweet hits to round meals off.

“Here at Insights Lab, we're actively working with clients to identify business-specific opportunities for new and existing dessert development in these uncertain times, syncing with bespoke operational strategies to refine and improve broader food offerings across both retail and foodservice

In its free deep-dive, Insights Lab highlights five dessert thought-starters as part of first stage product ideation, with off-menu creations, grown-up riffs on nostalgic classics, and a new cheesy dream all featured.

One example is an innovative choc ice option found at the new Mondo Beer + Pizza taproom in London’s Borough Yards.

As a pizza slice operation, any desserts by Mondo Beer + Pizza really had to be handheld to keep convenience high, with the team collaborating with vegan choc ice innovator, Vagabond, to develop an exclusive flavour that features the former's 11.5% barrel-aged imperial stout, Candy Candy,” Egg Soldier’s Porritt says.

“The beer is said to have a ‘thick chewy body, notes of coffee, chocolate and cinnamon with a sweet vanilla finish’, with the Candy Candy choc ice a great way for Mondo to stay on-brand with a simple, handheld dessert option, coming in at £6 each

Handheld is also a theme for Battersea coffee house and bakery Kapihan, which Insights Lab spotlights for its Halo-Halo, a Filipino sweet staple that blurs the lines between dessert and drink.

With classic dessert eating occasions increasingly questioned by penny-pinching consumers in the UK, we're considering a broader range of formats designed to spark interest, with Kapihan catching the eye with its halo-halo options this summer.

“Light, refreshing, versatile, and takeaway-friendly; halo-halo is traditionally made with crushed ice and condensed milk, topped with all manner of sweet ingredients boasting contrasting textures, such as ube ice cream, jackfruit and taro.

“Kapihan’s classic British strawberries and cream version is noteworthy, with such recognisable, mainstream flavours a gateway for UK consumers to discover such a dessert option without having to brave lesser-known Filipino toppings.

Insights Lab by Egg Soldiers produces a bi-monthly food trends newsletter, often posts free deep dives on its website, and provides detailed reports and immersive workshops to inspire NPD teams and drive innovation for UK foodservice & retail businesses.
Find out more with its free whitepaper, 'UK Hospitality Food & Drink Trends to Watch 2023/24'.

Inspiring Excellence: Nestle Professional Toque D'Or unveils this year's winners #

On Friday, Nestlé Professional announced the final winners of the 35th-anniversary edition of Toque d’Or. After battling it out during an exciting but tough Grand Finals Week on 5-9th June, Joshua Kerr from City of Glasgow College and Amber Clay from University College Birmingham have been named the champions of this year’s competition.
The Grand Finals consisted of four days of sustainability-inspired challenges, which gave the 12 finalists plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their new skills. Each day offered a new test, with participants crafting sustainably sourced menus, foraging for food, and learning about sustainable farming and production.
Throughout the week, competitors enjoyed industry-leading mentorship and advice from the judging panel as well as a number of guest judges and partners, led by award-winning chef and restauranteur, Tommy Banks; MasterChef Festive Knockout winner, Louisa Ellis; educator, sommelier and wine expert, Raul Diaz; and 2021 FOH Toque d’Or winner, Sophie Taylor.
The Grand Finals week included a trip to Brough Castle - part of First Milk, a farmer-owned dairy cooperative. Here, participants saw first-hand how First Milk is working with Nestlé to build a long-term regenerative approach to agriculture that supports both farmers and the environment.
The confectionery challenge at the Nestlé Product Technology Centre (PTC) in York was a culinary adventure and one of the key highlights from the week, which included a very special visit to the KitKat® factory, where competitors experienced the production process. This was followed by a chocolate masterclass from Nestlé’s Senior Confectioner, John Costello, with the students challenged to create delicious doughnuts and coffee shop style drinks in partnership with Richs and Sodexo. The milk from Brough Castle farm was used during the challenge, continuing the sustainable sourcing of ingredients.
During a day at Ellers Farm Distillery, finalists experienced the sustainable processes used to make Dutch Barn Orchard Vodka. Next, they created delicious Brazilian-inspired vodka cocktails at a masterclass using MONIN’s exotic Jabuticaba fruit mix, before going head-to-head, showcasing their new skills in a cocktail competition. Commenting on the challenge, judge Raul Diaz said: "All of the participants showed incredible skill and talent. It was wonderful to see their passion for new flavour combinations, and I was blown away by the creativity of their cocktails."
Finalists also enjoyed a trip to Tommy Bank's farm where they learned about his devotion to ‘farm to fork’ dining, foraged for wild food, and tested their knowledge in the garden identity test. And as ever, Finals Week culminated in the Fine Dining Challenge, giving competitors the chance to go all out, showcasing their talent and creativity to partners, sponsors and hospitality leaders at The Grand, York.
Judge, Tommy Banks said: “It was a pleasure to host the finalists at my farm and share my passion for ‘farm to fork’ dining. Their enthusiasm as they foraged for wild food shone through and I was also impressed by their level of knowledge in the garden identity test. The Fine Dining Challenge was the perfect culmination of their journey, allowing them to showcase their talent and creativity to esteemed partners and influential leaders across the hospitality industry. It was an incredible experience, and I’m proud to have been able to play my part.
Judge, Louisa Ellis said: "What a fantastic week. The perfect combination of inspiration, experiential learning and delicious food and drink! It’s been a pleasure judging and mentoring such talented individuals. I wish them all the very best in their careers.”
Katya Simmons, managing director of Nestlé Professional UK&I, said:
Once again, the calibre of Toque d’Or competitors has been outstanding. We've been delighted by the talent we've seen for our 35th anniversary edition, and we’d like to congratulate everyone who made it through and poured their hearts and souls into the Grand Finals.”
The competition epitomises our commitment to working closely with industry to support the next generation of hospitality professionals, providing them with the platform to really showcase their skills and creative flair. As part of this, it’s been a real pleasure to see so many pioneering businesses championing sustainability in our industry. They play a vital role; leading by example while showcasing all of the exciting careers available to young talent.
“A big thank you to all who helped make this Finals Week - and indeed the whole of this year’s Toque d’Or so special.

Joshua Kerr, City of Glasgow College, FOH Winner said: “I’m really proud of myself. To get to the final and be up against such talented people, who I now call friends, is a real privilege. Standing here as the winner of the front of house competition is the icing on the cake to what has been an incredible experience. It means so much and has given me an extra boost of confidence to really push myself in my career.”
Amber Clay, University College Birmingham, BOH Winner said: “It’s an incredible feeling to win the back of house competition. I’ve been thrown into the deep end, met some amazing people and learnt to not let fear hold me back. From meeting and cooking with Tommy Banks to learning about sustainable dairy farming, I've been able to develop a variety of new skills which will help me in my future career in hospitality.
Joshua and Amber will go on to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Brazil where they’ll discover São Paulo's vibrant gastronomy, learn about sustainable coffee in Espírito Santo, and enjoy a spectacular sightseeing trip in Rio de Janeiro. They'll also experience a ‘bean to cup’ journey, learning about regenerative farming techniques at a Nescafé Plan coffee farm, before watching the beans being transformed into coffee at one of its leading flavour development labs.
The awards ceremony took place on Friday 30th June at Landing 42, London. A recording of the ceremony can be viewed here:
For more information on Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or 2023, please click here:

Unitas partners with Echopay to save members money and reward retailers and foodservice operators #

Unitas is helping its wholesale members save up to £6.5 million in banking charges in the next year following a new partnership with EchoPay.
The partnership is one of several services Unitas is exploring to help its wholesale members reduce their costs to effectively respond to the rising costs of doing business.
EchoPay enables businesses to take payments using open banking channels, rather than through more costly debit and credit card providers (e.g., Visa and Mastercard). Typically, transfers using Visa and Mastercard cost the wholesaler 0.8-1.3% of the overall payment.
Analysis by EchoPay discovered that the average transaction in wholesale is £1,800, with £18 the average bank charge. EchoPay charges a small fraction of this per payment.
The service is now rolling out across all Unitas members. Out of the group’s £8.5bn turnover, the service is already integrated with businesses that make up £1.3bn. This will be worth £1m in savings this year. If the service rolls out across the entire membership, it will generate £6.5m in savings for Unitas members each year.
EchoPay provides Unitas members with three services to take payments:
Branded apps where a wholesaler’s customers can pay via their smartphone.
Credit management dashboards that enable delivered wholesalers to request payments by email or WhatsApp via a branded webpage.
Handheld ‘Clover’ terminals that wholesalers can use to take face-to-face payments using a QR code. 
Payments through EchoPay are faster and more secure than card payments. Money is transferred instantly, and the payer is unable to claim back a payment by cancelling it with their card provider.
Chris Gallacher, managing director of United Wholesale Scotland, said: “As cost pressures continue to rise in the wholesale/convenience channel, it’s becoming extremely difficult to continue to offer great margins that our retailers need. We have been looking at ways to reduce our controllable costs and EchoPay has been one of the biggest successes. It really is a frictionless method to pay with payments at UWS now over £500,000 a year we can use this saving to keep our prices down for our retailers.”
EchoPay has already integrated with Small Beer Wholesale and ABV Wholesale, which will save £40,000 and £20,000 a year respectively. Wilds of Oldham, R D Johns Foodservice and Venus Wine and Spirits Merchants have signed up in recent weeks.
Stephen Buckley, joint managing director of ABV Wholesale, said: "EchoPay is our default method of collecting payment from our customers. The ease and speed of sending links to customers has improved our efficiency and made it easier for them to pay. I would recommend EchoPay to any wholesaler."
Wholesalers can encourage their customers to use EchoPay with the company’s new rewards scheme – VIPayer – launching exclusively with Unitas. The company claims that the initiative is the world’s first open banking rewards scheme.
Each month, retailers and foodservice businesses could win one of five gift vouchers worth up to £100 voucher. In December 2023, one £500 voucher will be up for grabs. Each transaction over £50 that retailers and operators send will count as one entry into the competition.
EchoPay is headed by James Ward who held senior positions at wholesalers such as A.C. Ward and Son and Forward Wholesale.
As an ex-wholesaler, I understand the cost pressures businesses are under. I am proud to be working with Unitas to help wholesalers radically reduce costs in a challenging market,” he said.
A growing number of wholesalers are using EchoPay to take payment from their customers, and are benefiting from the lower costs, greater security, and better customer experience we offer.
“EchoPay has a longstanding partnership with Unitas and it made perfect sense for us to launch VIPayer together and give a further incentive for a retailer or caterer to deal with a Unitas Wholesale member.

Get in touch to learn more about payment options at Unitas Wholesale. Call
+44 (0)1302 249 909 or visit

Bull’s Eye! Kraft Heinz shines a light on conversations on out of home dining #

Kraft Heinz used social listening tool, Delve, to track insights about consumers' dining preferences over the last six months. Monitoring Twitter, blogs, forums and reviews, the results reveal macro trends, micro trends and top trending cuisines in the UK. Now they're sharing this insight with food operators, so they can evolve their menus and give consumers what they demand when dining out. 

Health and wellness topped the macro trends list, driving more than half (52%) of the conversations. Sustainability also made it to the top three macro trends, dominating more than 2 in 10 conversations. Consumers are concerned with sustainable ingredients and are seeking restaurants with sustainable practices.  

These themes come through in the micro trends, with vegan and plant-based conversations dominating 41% of the dining conversations OOH. Diets like keto and low carb take second place, capturing 17% of the conversation. In joint third, natural ingredients and local, seasonal eating take 10% of online posts each, as British diners become more discerning about the ingredients on their plates. 

Experience was also a hot topic, featuring in 22% of the conversations and making it the second most popular macro trend. Many consumers are looking for unique and memorable dining experiences, with experiential elements such as themed menus and immersive décor becoming increasingly popular.

These themed menus could mirror the top cuisine trends discussed, with British topping the list, generating 22% of the conversation, closely followed by Spanish and Chinese, then American and Thai. 

Artemis Argyrides, Foodservice Marketing Lead, Northern Europe at Kraft Heinz says. “British diners love a classic roast. In fact, 62% of the posts on British dishes talked about roast dinners. Our Bull's Eye BBQ sauces are perfect for bringing an American twist to this firm British favourite, which is a great way to tap into the experiential dining trend. And it's not just for meat-lovers, everyone can enjoy a unique dining experience. Roasted BBQ tempeh or mushrooms go just as well with roast potatoes as traditional roast beef.” 

"BBQ continues to be a strong favourite and made it into the UK’s top 10 cuisines. Our Bull’s Eye Original Sauce not only adds a premium touch to meat and veggie BBQ dishes; it’s also ideal served over pulled pork or shredded jackfruit for a sticky, smoky, American treat. Ramp up these dishes with creamy potato salad and collard greens, and you can give diners an indulgent Deep-South inspired ‘soul food’ experience." 

The next installment of the research will be released towards the end of the summer, tracking these consumer trends and habits. 
For more information on the full range visit Bull's Eye ( or Home - Bull's-Eye (
Also available at major UK wholesalers, ask your stockist for more information.  

FEA champions climate leadership #

The foodservice equipment industry’s commitment to sustainability was highlighted at a recent Trade Association Forum (TAF) event entitled ‘Best Practice, Taking Climate Leadership.’  TAF is made up of many of the UK’s leading trade associations.  The event, on 22nd June at the Royal College of General Practitioners in London, saw FEA’s chief executive, John Cunningham, talk about the foodservice equipment industry’s successes, opportunities and challenges on the road to Carbon Net Zero. 

A key area of discussion was that, while foodservice equipment manufacturers and suppliers have made huge strides in developing equipment that is more sustainable, more reliable and lasts longer, they have had limited support from Government.  For example, until recently the Energy Technology List (ETL) only featured refrigeration equipment for foodservice. 

That’s recently been widened to include other categories including Professional Food Service Equipment (PFSE), following extensive lobbying from FEA and others.  However, the Government is not really promoting the list and is only now considering the procurement of equipment for public sector use to be solely from manufacturers on the ETL.  Similarly, while FEA and its members are pushing the message on the vital need to manage FOG (Fats, Oil and Grease), legislation in England remains weak.   "We have approached DEFRA and the PM’s office to discuss the matter further and talk about suitable measures that FEA members could help with, but there’s been little appetite to meet us,” Cunningham told the Forum.  “Government needs to up its game and become proactive, and quickly.” 

Meanwhile, FEA has produced the FOG Superguide, which sets out the issues and good practice.  It’s available to download from under the information tab.    

Cunningham also explained FEA’s own actions to reduce its carbon footprint.  The Association has partnered with CAFA (Climate Action For Associations) and been audited on its carbon emissions.  Its most significant contributor was business travel – and so FEA has taken measures ranging from encouraging working from home to minimising travel by exploiting virtual meeting technology. 

We need to be an authentic champion of climate leadership for our members,” Cunningham explained.  FEA’s Sustainability Product Group is a forum where members come together to share ideas, challenges and solutions.  The Association is also developing training and support around sustainability, helping members cut through the rhetoric and implement practical steps to meet their sustainability commitments and aspirations. 

‘Best Practice, Taking Climate Leadership’ was chaired by Alison Heppenstall, CEO of CAFA.  Joining Cunningham on the panel were Tessa Vincent, head of policy for UN High Level Champions, Nicki Hunt, climate action roadmap manager at the British Retail Consortium, and Richard Ellithorne, membership services director at the Builders Merchants Federation.
The Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) is the independent, authoritative voice of the foodservice equipment industry, representing nearly 200 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment - from utensils to full kitchen schemes.  For more information on FEA visit 

RSPCA Assured celebrates 29 years of championing farm animal welfare #

RSPCA Assured celebrates its birthday with millions of farm animals living better lives, thousands of member farms commiting to the scheme, high levels of consumer awareness and rising numbers of retailers offering RSPCA.  

RSPCA Assured marks 29 years since it was first founded on Thursday 6 July. The RSPCA’s farm animal assurance scheme was created in 1994 (as Freedom Food) with a focus on improving animal welfare in agriculture and aquaculture farming systems. 

The idea behind RSPCA Assured was to establish an ethical food label to enable consumers to identify animal products from higher welfare farms. It was hoped that customer demand would drive progress in welfare. Since the launch of the scheme, consumer awareness of animal welfare has risen, with recent consumer polling by the charity showing that 69% of consumers consider animal welfare a key issue for them*.

Mike Baker, Chief Executive of RSPCA Assured, said:

"We are delighted to be celebrating this important milestone today and looking forward to our big 30th birthday next year. It’s a great time to recognise the huge strides that RSPCA Assured has taken over the 29 years it has been in existence. The results of our consumer polling show that farm animal welfare is a rising concern for consumers, even during a cost of living crisis and producers, foodservice industry and retailers are responding to this demand. The positive impact this will have on the millions of farmed animals in the UK is significant"..

We’re now focused on building on this success and pushing ahead to reach our ambitious goal of at least half of all farmed animals in the UK being reared to the RSPCA’s welfare standards by 2030.”

The RSPCA’s Science and Policy team develops and regularly updates detailed welfare standards for each of the major animal species farmed in the UK. All farms on the RSPCA Assured scheme are regularly assessed to ensure they comply with the RSPCA’s welfare standards which go above and beyond ‘standard’ or typical UK production in many key welfare areas, to ensure animals can exhibit their natural behaviours and have what they need for a better quality of life. 

Awareness of the scheme and its focus on animal welfare has steadily grown with recent consumer polling results showing 61% awareness, with RSPCA Assured ranking as first choice in the minds of its target market (families and young professionals) when choosing animal welfare assurance versus other providers.

Positive brand perception of RSPCA Assured was also highest compared to that of other farm assurance schemes with an average of 74% of consumers saying they trust the label.

Visibility of RSPCA Assured has never been higher with over 1,800 products available through retailers including Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. The scheme also welcomed a major move by Marks and Spencer in September 2022 who made a market-leading commitment to move 100% of its fresh chicken to RSPCA Assured.

For more information on RSPCA Assured, visit:

Collaboration is key for tackling waste, says food industry leaders #

Industry leaders from catering, manufacturing and not-for-profit organisations united online earlier this month to discuss challenges, solutions and best practice around reducing waste in the food industry.
Brought together by Footprint Sustainability Bites: Packaging & Waste podcast, in association with Nestlé Professional, attendees discussed inconsistencies in the UK’s waste disposal infrastructure and the difficulty accurately measuring emissions. To address these, they agreed that data and greater cross-sector collaboration will help the industry accelerate its progress towards a circular economy.
Chaired by Amy Fetzer, Footprint head of research & analysis, the podcast welcomed Sokhna Gueye, head of packaging, Nestlé UK&I, Sophie Whitfield, head of corporate responsibility engagement, Sodexo and Eleanor Morris, hospitality and foodservice sector specialist, WRAP. Talking about current and upcoming legislation, the lively debate identified the key waste reduction challenges the sector faces and how these might be overcome.
On packaging’s role, Sokhna Gueye talked about regional differences in recycling schemes and the need for greater consistency to make sure that packaging is recycled. Eleanor Morris explained why the foodservice industry should expand its focus from food waste and how better data can aid decision-making and improve processes. Sophie Whitfield shared details on Sodexo’s work creating a circular economy, and the responsibility of food operators to make the right choices for consumers while communicating impact and the importance of recycling and reuse.
All agreed there is no single solution due to the diverse number of influencing factors. However, with better collaboration across the value chain, and a continued focus on monitoring and improvement through data, the industry can move towards a circular economy with greater momentum.
Sokhna Gueye, head of packaging, Nestlé UK&I, says:
As the podcast showed, waste reduction is an incredibly complex issue, which needs a variety of actions if the food industry is to accelerate its journey towards a net zero circular economy.
“At Nestlé, we know that to make a real difference, our actions must be part of an all-round solution that links our initiatives to society as a whole. It must include using more sustainable packaging, stimulating consumer understanding, supporting the investment in effective infrastructure for recycling and advocating for making recycling consistent nationwide.

“Globally, we’re investing up to £1.5 billion to lead the move away from virgin plastics to food-grade recycled plastics. We’ve also set our world-class research and development teams the task of developing innovative and more sustainable packaging solutions. We’ll continue to collaborate with industry and share data and learnings to ensure we make a positive impact on the evolution of packaging and waste
The podcast was released online earlier this week and can be downloaded or streamed online from Sustainability Bites in association with Nestlé Professional | Sustainability Bites in association with Nestlé Professional – Episode 2: Packaging & Waste (

Bidfood highlights a series of innovative solutions ahead of the single-use plastic ban #

Following last year’s implementation of the plastic tax legislation, and the ban of plastic stirrers and straws in 2020, Bidfood’s Catering Supplies team has been busy looking at ways to support customers in making informed choices ahead of the single-use plastic ban coming into effect from the 1st October 2023. 
It’s estimated that England uses a colossal 2.7 billion items of single-use cutlery, most of which are plastic, and a staggering 721 million single-use plates per year, with only 10% getting recycled.[1] These single-use items, as well as certain polystyrene cups and food-to-go containers, will be included in the ban, meaning they cannot be purchased from any business.
Placing sustainability at the heart of everything they do, Bidfood’s Catering Supplies is continuing on its journey to drive a circular economy by helping its customers reduce, reuse, recycle and renew.
In preparation for the single-use plastics ban, the team has released a ‘Plastic Ban’ guide suggesting the alternative products their customers can switch to using, making the transition as easy as possible for them. The guide will also promote recyclable plastics and their correct waste streams, as not all plastics are included in the ban.
In addition to their guide, Bidfood’s Catering Supplies will provide further support through a series of blogs and a dedicated webpage where readers can find top-line information regarding the ban and access to their support materials.
Bidfood’s Catering Supplies team recently partnered with award-winning sustainable packaging company, Notpla, adding six of their seaweed-coated food-to-go packaging to their range.
The brand, which was recently awarded the Earthshot Prize by the Prince of Wales, has designed the seaweed-lined boxes to biodegrade naturally. They are both home compostable and recyclable, leaving no harmful traces in the environment at the end of life.
With a number of sustainability-based goals set for 2025, Bidfood’s Catering Supplies has made headway by removing all EPS (expanded polystyrene) products from their disposables range last year. They have also introduced a range of innovative products such as paper cutlery, PE cling film and Flexsil-Lids.
Michaela Bateman, Category & Marketing Manager for Catering Supplies at Bidfood said: “The upcoming plastic ban needn’t feel like a big change for our customers as we have already been working in the background to present them with some great alternatives.
It’s our passion to support our customers with products that have a sustainable end-of-life solution that drives us as a team. Introducing a new generation of packaging like Notpla’s seaweed-lined boxes and Vegware’s paper cutlery will help them phase out unnecessary plastics.
“While the ban means the end of single-use plastics, we really want our guide to highlight the good, recyclable plastics too. As always, we want to provide a product that’s fit for purpose and with a guaranteed waste stream.
“There is a lot more work to do in the packaging world, but clearly legislation centred on sustainability is encouraging innovation and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for packaging and kitchen supplies

For more help, tips and support on the single-use plastic ban, please visit: