Members’ News

June 2024

Taste the Triumph: Nestlé Professional crowns 2024 Toque d'Or champions #

Nestlé Professional is thrilled to announce the winners of the 36th edition of its prestigious hospitality competition Toque d’Or. After an exhilarating Grand Finals Week held from April 21 to 25, Geraldine Sierra Torres from Westminster Kingsway College and Jasmine Ferdinando from York College have been crowned as the champions of this year’s competition.
This year's Grand Finals comprised a series of action-packed challenges focused on sustainability, covering topics such as food provenance, regenerative agriculture and how hospitality plays an important role in supporting communities. Each day presented a unique opportunity for the 12 finalists to showcase their skills, creativity and passion, from curating menus using sustainably sourced ingredients and engaging in food foraging activities, to delving into the principles of sustainable farming and production.
Competitors received unparalleled guidance and expertise from a distinguished panel of judges. Two Michelin-star chef Tommy Banks spearheaded the BOH judging panel alongside his culinary partner Tom Bell and Nestlé's global executive chef Emmanuel Lorieux. For FOH, the judging panel was led by winner of the 2023 Gold Service Scholarship and footman at The Royal Household, Jupiter Humphrey-Bishop, along with Nestlé Professional’s master barista Christos Sotiros, Nespresso customer service manager Vincenzo D’Aniello, and cocktail expert Nicolas Medicamento.
Former Toque d’Or competitors, now ambassadors and judges of the competition, including 2023 BOH finalist Emily Simkins, 2018 FOH winner Antonia Macfarlane, 2021 FOH winner Sophie Taylor, and last year's FOH champion Joshua Kerr, all contributed their invaluable expertise. Drawing from their own experiences as past winners and finalists, the rising industry stars were able to inspire and guide this year’s finalists through the different challenges.
This year’s Grand Finals Week was hosted at various iconic locations including the Fine Dining Challenge, which was held at D&D London’s ‘Blueprint’ on the south bank of the River Thames. The week offered a series of challenges that pushed the competitors to their limits while allowing them to demonstrate their skills and ingenuity while still being built around the competition’s overarching theme of sustainability. 
It all began with Sodexo’s ‘farm-to-fork’ challenge set by competition partners Sodexo Live! and Full Circle Farms. Held at Full Circle Farms in West Sussex, finalists were able to learn all about regenerative agriculture and the importance of community support. In this challenge, the competitors were assessed on a wide range of criteria, including their approach to foraging wild ingredients, their teamwork skills when assembling their street-food inspired menus, and their understanding of regenerative agriculture.
The Starbucks coffee challenge took place the following day, where the finalists learned all about the provenance of 100% ethically sourced Arabica coffee beans and delved into the art of coffee craftsmanship at the Starbucks Support Centre in Chiswick. In pairs, the finalists were tasked with crafting an iced signature beverage tailored to the discerning palate of Gen Z consumers. They were judged on their creative flare when making the signature beverages, while ensuring coffee stood out as the hero ingredient. This challenge provided the finalists with a hands-on learning experience focused on the art of brewing, including cold brew techniques, and espresso pouring.
On the third day of Grand Finals Week, FOH finalists received a masterclass in the art of cocktail making, courtesy of competition partner Nestlé Waters (San Pellegrino), which was delivered by Nicolas Medicamento. BOH competitors ventured out for a foodie tour at London’s famous Borough Market to soak in some of the capital’s best culinary talent. Later that day, the finalists enjoyed a customer service masterclass led by Jupiter Humphrey-Bishop, a coffee masterclass delivered by Nespresso‘s Vincenzo D’Aniello and Nestlé Professional’s Christos Sotiros, and finally a wine masterclass from 2018 FOH Toque d’Or winner, Antonia MacFarlane.
The Fine Dining Challenge provided competitors with an opportunity to use all these learnings to deliver an unforgettable fine dining experience, including a menu curated by Tommy Banks, for 60 discerning guests. Using ingredients supplied by competition partner Woods Food Service, the finalists successfully cooked and served a delicious and well-presented range of food including lamb with asparagus and mint, red mullet served with Jerusalem artichoke and a roast bone sauce, and a mushroom and filo tart. The meals were expertly paired with Henners Vineyard wines. 
Judge, Tommy Banks said: “It was an absolute pleasure to collaborate with the finalists throughout what was a transformative, week-long learning experience. Witnessing their dedication and creativity during the Fine Dining Challenge was truly inspiring. As they move forward beyond the competition, I have every confidence that they will continue to flourish and make significant contributions to the hospitality industry.”
Judge, Jupiter Humphrey-Bishop said: “I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the participants. Your dedication, talent, and passion have shone throughout this journey. As you move forward in your careers, remember to stay true to your passion and to never stop pushing the boundaries.
"I wish each and every one of you the very best in your future endeavours. May your journey in hospitality continue to be filled with joy, growth, and endless opportunities to make a positive impact.”

Katya Simmons, managing director of Nestlé Professional UK&I, said: “Yet again, this year's Toque d’Or competition has demonstrated just how much young talent there is in hospitality. We enjoyed watching all the participants as they progressed through key stages of the competition and extend our warmest congratulations to those who advanced and competed in Grand Finals Week. It’s no mean feat and they should all be proud to have made it this far, in what is an incredible achievement.
"The essence of this competition lies in our unwavering commitment to fostering the next generation of hospitality professionals, through close collaboration with the industry. It has been truly inspiring to partner with other pioneering businesses on crucial topics such as sustainability and regenerative agriculture, ensuring we set the new standard for emerging talent and a benchmark for success.
“A huge thank you to all who have contributed to making this Grand Finals Week, and indeed the entire Toque d’Or event, a resounding success. And another huge congratulations to this year's winners Geraldine and Jasmine.”

Geraldine Sierra Torres, BOH Winner said: “This is such a surreal moment for me. Ever since I was a child, I remember cooking with my grandmother in the kitchen at home. She inspired me to pursue my passion for cooking, which has ultimately led me to where I am today. While I’m incredibly proud of my achievement, I think all of the finalists are deserving champions. As a group, we’ve spent so much time together and created some amazing memories. It’s great to have made so many friends. I want to thank everyone involved in making this competition so special; I’ve been able to grow so much both from a personal and professional perspective. I’m going to enjoy this moment first, and then look forward to the prize trip to Switzerland!”
Jasmine Ferdinando, FOH Winner said: “I know it sounds like a cliche, but when I first entered the competition I never thought I would get this far. I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity, to meet so many amazing people and to develop great friendships along the way. I can’t wait to put the skills and knowledge that I’ve been able to gain over the last few months to the test, as I get ready to start my career. I’d like to thank my college lecturer Suzanne for supporting me and giving me the confidence to really push myself and step out of my comfort zone. Looking ahead, there’s so much to be excited about, but first I want to soak in all the fun and adventure that awaits us in Switzerland!”
This year’s winners, Geraldine and Jasmine, are now set to embark on an extraordinary journey to Switzerland, immersing themselves in Nestlé's rich heritage and Swiss traditions. This once-in-a-lifetime trip will include visits to the Nestlé headquarters, where both Geraldine and Jasmine will learn more about culinary arts and sustainability in a masterclass with Nestlé Professional global executive chef, Emmanuel Lorieux; experience a hands-on training day with Nestlé Professional’s master barista Christos Sotiros at the Nestlé Beverage Centre in Orbe; receive a special tour of the renowned Nestlé chocolate factory; and visit some of the best food and drink destinations Switzerland has to offer, in what is set to be an unforgettable culinary journey.
For more information on Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or 2024, please visit: Toque d’Or Hospitality Competition 2024 | Nestlé Professional (

Sodexo achieves Accomplished Carer Confident accreditation #

Sodexo UK & Ireland has been awarded level 2 in the Carer Confident benchmarking scheme demonstrating that it is Accomplished in providing caring support.
The scheme, run by Employers for Carers, Carers UK’s employer forum, recognises employers and looks to inspire others to follow suit. It assists employers to build a supportive and inclusive workplace for employees who are, or will become, carers and to make the most of the talents that carers can bring to the workplace.
According to Employers for Carers 1 in 7 people are juggling work with caring for someone who is older, ill or disabled, and with an ageing population, carers are a growing reality in the workforce.
Sodexo achieved level 2 Accomplished status following an assessment in five areas:
Preparation – how employers are enabling carers to identify and recognise themselves?
Policy and guidance – how are employers making support for carers transparent?
Practical support – what practical provisions and arrangements are available for carers?
Peer support – how are employers connecting and engaging carers?
Promoting support – how are employers communicating carer support? 

Helen Walker, Chief Executive, Carers UK said: “We are delighted that Sodexo has achieved Carer Confident, Accomplished level. This shows its commitment as an employer to carers throughout its workplace through both policies and practices. We look forward to working with Sodexo as it progresses through its Carer Confident journey.”
In 2023, ahead of the Carers Leave Act coming into force in April 2024 Sodexo introduced a suite of new enhanced benefits including paid care leave which goes above the new requirements outlined in the Act. The new benefits are part of the Sodexo Group’s Vita programme which brings together a common foundation for employee benefits for Sodexo’s eligible employees across the world.
Sodexo’s Carers Leave policy for employees with caring responsibilities provides information on the company’s offering of five days paid leave per rolling 12-month period as well as reference to Sodexo’s definition of a carer, reiterating its commitment and signposting employees to relevant support options such as its care concierge service.
The care concierge service is provided by Sodexo’s pension provider Legal & General and provides a personal service for its employees to access helping them to understand, find and fund later life care, whether they have an immediate need for care, or are doing research for any future needs.
Mark Goodyer, HR Director, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “We are thrilled to have achieved level 2 in our first application for this accreditation.  At Sodexo we are committed to supporting the wellbeing of our people, ensuring they feel they belong, are able to act with purpose and thrive in their own way.
“It is our ambition to offer a flexible first culture to help our people balance work and personal commitments in a way that suits them, By advocating and supporting those with caring responsibilities we are helping support social mobility in the communities in which we live and work. Our Parents and Carers employee network plays an important role providing valuable peer support through initiatives and regular events.”

This Carers Week (10-14 June), Sodexo is putting carers holding a number of events including:
Virtual lunch and learn session (10 June): A virtual Positive Conversations event open to all Sodexo employees with two industry experts from Carers UK.
Carers coffee mornings: Sodexo’s Parents and Carers employee network is encouraging people to  host an informal carers coffee morning at their site and/or office.

Raj Jones, head of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), Sodexo UK & Ireland added: “Sodexo is committed to providing all employees with the best possible work life experience at every stage of their career understanding personal circumstances can change at any time.  We offer our employees the flexibility to manage such circumstances so they can continue to grow with us whlilst being supported to look after their own wellbeing as well and be recognised for the invaluable support they give to those close to them.”

LET Forum 2024 – new product news #

The latest launches and on-trend lines from the FEA’s annual light equipment and tableware event

At FEA’s annual Light Equipment and Tableware Forum suppliers launch their latest products and concepts, as well as showcasing key lines that are on-trend – or likely to be so!  Here are some of the exhibitor highlights from the 2024 event, which took place at Whittlebury Hall, Towcester, in May 2024. 

Can one frying pan do all the frying?  No.  Non-stick pans are fine for delicate cooking of things like fish and eggs, but high heat cooking, such as steaks, needs an uncoated steel pan.  De Buyer offers a wide range of both, and Signature also showed how simple it is to season and clean steel pans.  From Pinti Inox there was a variety of new cutlery, including taupe and blue additions to the Hive collection, which has handles in six different matt colours.  The latest addition to mirror polished cutlery Marilyn was also on show, along with elegant new Audrey steak knives.

Focusing on new ideas for front of house, Contacto unveiled attractive and practical dispensers for breakfast buffets including models for jam, cereal, condiments and juice.  New insulated bowls look good and keep food cool for hours.  Also new were the AluChef range of casseroles and GN 1/1 65mm pans, which are brightly coloured, lightweight and, though made of aluminium, are induction compatible. 

The company’s buffet display products are developed with the objectives that they are attractive, easy to use, virtually unbreakable, and easy to assemble – ideally with no tools.  For example, the taps for juice dispensers have a clever design that means they are unlikely to block and are easily taken apart (only two pieces) and washed in a dishwasher.  Striking tall, narrow juice and cereal dispensers were a highlight, while new products include a flexible oval display tower. 

The cutlery, steak and buffet specialist offers many designs and finishes in both 18/10 and 18/0 stainless steel. On show were new products based on their bestselling stainless-steel Metropole range, with additional finishes including copper, black, champagne or gold as well as a sandblasted Velvet finish. Focussing on sustainability, Amefa offer a stainless-steel alternative to single-use plastic cutlery which is dishwasher safe and magnetic, allowing them to be re-used or re-cycled.

The company showcased the latest version of the innovative Sunnex range of dry-heat chafers, which keep food warm without the need for water, unlike traditional electric chafers.  They are up to 40% more energy efficient than traditional water-based versions, are simple to use, plus they don’t need topping up!  Other products on show included the popular Orion range of white porcelain hotel ware,  cast iron, wood and copper presentation products, gastronorm containers, bakeware, buffet equipment, salad spinners, and utensils.
Pro Foodservice Reps
Allergen tools and utensils are PFR’s biggest sellers in the Mercer range – they offer thirty different products.  From Barfly came a new barware range with an antique gold finish, and a manual juice extractor that can handle several limes at once.  Also new are Escali scales and temperature monitoring equipment, Spidocook ovens and griddles, a versatile heated well from Hatco, and the Puracycle label for storage containers – it acts like a whiteboard and can be dishwashed 500 times. 

FEM served up virgin Mojitos to delegates in style with the versatile Pujadas cocktail trolley, using the high-performance Summit Edge blender, the powerful, ultra-quiet unit from Hamilton Beach Commercial.  New products ranged from coloured ice buckets and tableware to drip-proof squeeze sauce dispensers, the Sirman vertical vacuum packer and the Pujadas handheld smoker.  Meanwhile, the latest Cambro storage boxes have a clever lid design and a drainage shelf that can extend food storage times by up to three days, while the San Jamar Saf-T-Zone allergen system is packed with purple utensils and tools to protect against cross-contamination.

The company focused on the Pacojet 4, the latest version of the innovative system for creating all sorts of dishes, from puree and pesto to ice cream, sorbet, drinks and humus.  It enables operators to get maximum taste from ingredients, and the company offered samples of a variety of recipes.  It also helps minimise food waste, since it can ‘pacotize’ exactly as many portions as required, and the remainder can be put back in the freezer till required. 

The company sells around 80,000 of its iconic Classic toasters every year, which are handmade in the UK.  The product's famous longevity is based on its quality, craftsmanship,  engineering and the ability for all parts to be repaired or replaced, including the elements.  The British brand has made a wealth of kitchen appliances for almost 80 years, including coffee machines, and moved into UK coffee consumable production in 2013, which now accounts for about 20% of the business.  It has just relaunched its Compostable Coffee Bags in a recyclable sachet, which makes them ideal for room service. 

Thunder Group
The company’s biggest sellers in the UK are stainless steel dip pots and various back of house utensils including GN pans and tongs.  The presentation focused on its FOH products, especially melamine tableware and polycarbonate glasses.  However, one of its most popular Forum ideas was the Tequila Station – a three-tier circular design where users dipped the rim of the tequila glass (polycarbonate of course!) in the top circle for the lime juice, then in the second for the salt. 

New melamine ranges included Terra, with an on-trend matt finish, and Ridge, which is gloss and has a rippled texture.  The company reckons that melamine can save outdoor caterers 15-20% in breakages.  It was also promoting its ability to personalise melamine products for as little as £1 per piece, for orders of 300 or more.  Other new products included seafood towers, cake domes, cocktail shakers and a stainless steel cooling plate that keeps cooling for up to four hours. 

With over 75 years' experience showcasing the versatility of melamine, Dalebrook has designs not only for contract caterers but also partnering with venues from casual dining to luxury. Talon is a stylish, smart, functional and colourful collection that features ribbing. The range includes plates, bowls, cups, and a variety of server ware. The company also promoted their bespoke design service - showing a striking melamine cabbage bowl as an example. Hygienic melamine ‘wood’ boards can be textured, while melamine ‘chalk’ boards can go through the dishwasher.  Clever rubber risers, called Peak, can be built Lego-like to create a variety of displays.

Elia has invested heavily in a new website that offers a wide range of services to help their distributors.  New in cutlery is the Flow pattern in 18/10 stainless steel and debossed with a delicate, sophisticated pattern.  It’s stylish, practical and elegant, and its design catches and reflects the light – it’s part of the trend for stylish, textured cutlery that offers a point of difference.  Meanwhile Vantage has a fine, smooth matt finish created by tumbling in very small stones.  On the glassware side, the company’s Motif range is handmade and ultra-light. 

Lifetime Brands
The company says its main focus is on sustainability, from developing products right through to packaging and delivery. Under its MasterClass brand Lifetime has launched recycled bakeware - uncoated aluminium roasting and baking trays made from 100% recycled aluminium. MasterClass Eco Snap food storers are made from recycled plastic and the MasterClass All-In-One Dishes are made from stainless steel and are microwaveable, ideal for reducing waste. Also attracting attention was La Cafetiere's The Beanie, a travel mug made from 30% recycled coffee husks. FOH items on show from Lifetime's Artesà brand included presentation pieces and chopping boards in materials such as slate, marble and wood. 

Greenworks is a new range of cutlery with recycled plastic handles – the packaging it comes in is recyclable, too.  There are also Greenworks chef’s knives, with blades of German steel.  Greenworks products combine quality, sustainability, and keen pricing.  New in Grunwerg’s portfolio of 18/10 cutlery is the stylish Royals range, with designs called Sandringham, Westminster and Kensington.  Meanwhile Saltire cutlery has the cross of St Andrew embossed in the handle.  Also new are Café Olé cafetieres in double walled glass, which keeps the coffee hotter for longer, whilst remaining cool to touch on the outside. 

Mitchell and Cooper
The company announced a new Unigrip portioner, which will be lighter and easier to use than the current version.  Also new is a high-density plastic chopping board that won’t warp in the dishwasher.  An eclectic range of new products ranged from heat-, water- and fat-proof silicon mitt gauntlets to Merlin barware.  Dehydrators are a big trend – with some interesting food waste uses.  For example, pop potato peelings into the Excalibur dehydrator and voila, homemade crisps!
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 

DFN Project SEARCH and Compass support job seekers via ‘Reverse Jobs Fair’ #

DFN Project SEARCH and Compass Group UK & Ireland hosted a ‘Reverse Jobs Fair’ at Compass’ regional community skills and learning centre, Xcelerate with Edgbaston.

The fair brought together young people with a learning disability and/or autism spectrum condition and recruiters from the local area to get to know each other and discuss job opportunities. For the fair, each supported intern designed a display board with images and information about their placements. Interns used these boards as a starting point for talking to employers about their skills, experience and career goals.

The event is part of a partnership between DFN Project SEARCH, Compass Group UK & Ireland, Heart of Birmingham Vocational College, Mencap and Birmingham City Council, aiming to help young people gain the skills they need to transition to work and gain their independence.

DFN Project SEARCH is a national charity changing the lives of young people with a learning disability and/or autism spectrum condition by supporting them into full-time employment.

Together with a community of partners, DFN Project SEARCH delivers Supported Internships – transition-to-work programmes – for young people in their final year of school or college, helping them make the positive transition to adulthood. The charity works in over 120 sites around the UK and is working to support 10,000 young people by 2030.

Xcelerate with Edgbaston is the first of Compass’ regional community skills and learning hubs for training and excellence. Designed to help with training, development and employment opportunities, this event perfectly demonstrates the value the hub brings to the local community.

This is a crucial part of Compass’ Mission to A Million commitment, which supports ‘Our Social Promise’ and pledges to positively impact one million lives by 2030.

Ibrahim, who attended the fair, said:
“I found the reverse fair experience very interesting, as it was something I had never done before. It initially seemed overwhelming, but actually speaking with lots of employers to showcase my skills felt very good, as by then I had come out of my shell and was comfortable talking to new people. It really helped me understand what potential employers were offering and what qualities they were looking for.”

Molly Williams-Leer, Programme Specialist at DFN Project SEARCH helped organise the fair and spoke about her impression of the day:
“We love reverse job fairs because they allow interns to showcase their skills to hiring managers in a way that works for them. I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the employers who embraced this new format with open arms, spending lots of time speaking to each intern and even inviting some of them to apply for open positions. You could see the immediate impact this had on our interns, who became more confident with each employer they spoke to.”

Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers, Compass Group UK & Ireland, said:
“This event really brings to life what Xcelerate is all about – supporting the local community and hospitality industry with our state-of-the-art facility. It was a great event and the feedback has been fantastic. It was another step forward in our ongoing partnership with DFN Project SEARCH, which is changing people’s lives.”

Claire Cookson, Chief Executive of DFN Project SEARCH, said:
“We are so proud to be working with Compass and all our Birmingham partners to help more young people with a learning disability into meaningful employment. The Reverse Job Fair is a brilliant opportunity for young people and their families from the Edgbaston area to find out more about local job opportunities and start planning out their future careers.”

HRH The Princess Royal hears how military food today supports nutritional needs of service personnel #

HRH The Princess Royal visited The Royal Logistic Corps Museum at Worthy Down on June 11 to discover more about how Sodexo has evolved its military food offer to support the nutritional and wellbeing needs of serving military personnel. 

The Princess Royal is Patron of the British Nutrition Foundation and has been Colonel in Chief of the Royal Logistic Corps since the formation of the Corps in 1993. 

In partnership with the British Nutrition Foundation, of which HRH The Princess Royal is the Patron, Sodexo showcased how food services for the Armed Forces has evolved.  Example dishes and menus were demonstrated and the nutritional science behind the menus explained.  

Sodexo’s expertise in delivering military dining goes back 50 years. It works closely with its military partners to ensure the evolving physical and mental needs of our armed forces are understood and addressed. 

Sodexo understands it’s not just about the food.  With the lived experience a high priority for the military, Sodexo uses its experience, expertise and insight to provide a fresh modern approach to military dining, that looks just like what’s available on the High Street. 

During her visit HRH The Princess Royal learned about the use of digital applications to improve the customers’ journey, nutritional choices and food experience and how sustainability is embedded throughout Sodexo’s operations with initiatives such as WasteWatch, its innovative food waste management programme which will deliver reductions in food waste by 50%.  

The Princess Royal arrived at the Museum in the Rolls Royce used by Field Marshal Montgomery in France after D-Day which is cared for in the collections of the Museum.  The vehicle has recently been restored and last week featured in the D-Day 80th anniversary commemoration events in Normandy. HRH was welcomed at the Museum by the RLC Corps of Drums. 

Simon Walmsley, Director of the Royal Logistic Corps Museum said: “We were delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness to the Museum on behalf of Sodexo and the British Nutrition Foundation. The Corps has a history of sustaining the army for over 200 years and we are honoured to have the work of military caterers honoured with this visit.” 

Paul Anstey, CEO Government, Sodexo UK & Ireland added: “It was an honour to host HRH The Princess Royal. We work closely with our military partners and the British Nutrition Foundation to ensure that our Armed Forces personnel have the best possible lived experience which includes providing a wide range of tasty nutritious dining options which they can tailor to their own specific needs as well as providing them with the space to relax and socialise in their down time.” 

In November last year Sodexo and the British Nutrition Foundation partnered to create the Military Advisory Group for Nutrition and Wellbeing, bringing together experts and military stakeholders to explore practical solutions that support the nutritional needs of the British Armed Forces. 

Elaine Hindal, CEO, British Nutritional Foundation further commented: “We were delighted to be able to show our patron how military food has evolved to now encapsulate not only nutritional science but also takes into account the expectations of today’s armed forces. Replicating food that is available outside of the military is key to helping improve their lived experience and is bringing together people with modern, appealing social and dining spaces. Through our expert Military Advisory Group we are looking to make a difference by driving positive change and with Sodexo’s support we are helping educate on the value of nutrition for the health and wellbeing of all military personnel.”

Euros final heartbreak again for England, as Swiss Dish wins the European Championship of Food Carbon Footprints #

Ahead of the Euros, food tech firm Nutritics calculated which of the competing nations has the most sustainable national dish – and yet again England are pipped to the post 
England have fallen agonisingly short of European glory once again, this time finishing as losing finalists in the European Championship of Food Carbon Footprints, created by leading food technology firm, Nutritics.  
Nutritics used its AI-led Foodprint technology to analyse the national dishes of all 24 countries taking part in this summer’s Euros competition, working out the carbon footprint of each meal. By simulating the entire tournament, Switzerland ended up as the surprise winner, beating England in the final, with the Swiss Rosti, a potato cake, triumphing over the English classic, Fish and Chips.  
Claire Chalmers, Senior Director, Nutritics, said: “Through a combination of our AI tools and scientific data, we were able to accurately and quickly identify the most sustainable national dishes. Football might be coming home this summer, but no matter how the Three Lions do, fans can take comfort knowing that a portion of fish and chips on the way home from the pub is one of the most sustainable food choices they can make!”  
A meal’s carbon footprint takes into account the total greenhouse gas emissions produced to create each dish, including growing, processing, transportation, storage, cooking and disposal. According to the data, there was less positive news for Scotland, who continued their curse of never making it out of the groups at a major tournament, finishing bottom in Group A. In fact, the Scottish national dish, Haggis, had the – least favourable carbon footprint of all the foods analysed by Nutritics’ team of scientists.  
In a tournament full of upsets, Nutritics’ simulation also saw a host of big names knocked out in the group stage, including France with Pot-au-Feu (a beef stew), hosts, Germany, with Bratwurst, Belgium with Moule Frites and Croatia with Cevapi (a grilled mince meat). 
Making it to the semi-finals, with some of the lowest carbon-footprint dishes, were Portugal and their national dish of Bacalhau (cod), and the Czech Republic, with Vepřo Knedlo Zelo (roast pork, dumplings, and sauerkraut). Group B had the lowest carbon footprint, with Albania’s national dish of Fërgesë (tomatoes, peppers and feta), Spanish Paella, and Italian Pizza all amongst the most sustainable dishes.  
Nutritics is the market leader in food service technology. The company develops and supplies food data management software, which is able to display the commercial, environmental and nutritional impact of food in one place, making it easier for businesses to improve menu and recipe goals. 

Sodexo’s Starting Fresh programme wins Social Impact & Diversity award at 2024 Footprint Awards #

Sodexo’s Starting Fresh programme which aims to encourage UK businesses to recruit people with convictions has been recognised at the Footprint Awards for sustainability excellence, winning the Social Impact and Diversity award.
Sodexo launched its Starting Fresh initiative in the UK in March 2023 following research1 it commissioned identifying that 62% of UK private sector businesses were facing recruitment challenges yet a third had not considered hiring people with convictions.
Starting Fresh leverages Sodexo’s extensive experience in the sector as an inclusive employer, to advocate for, and provide employment opportunities for, this often overlooked group. It offers free guidance to employers, encouraging more businesses to proactively recruit skilled and qualified people with convictions.
In its first year, Starting Fresh has 

facilitated employer days in prisons, allowing businesses to meet potential employees and learn about their skills and qualifications first hand.  

supported Sodexo’s Prison Employment Leads help 700 people to gain sustainable employment upon release from prison with a wide variety of organisations, including Sodexo. 

seen Sodexo partner with more than 20 charities and external organisations who all share the common goal of supporting those from prison into employment. These include the government’s New Futures Network, The Oswin Project, Clean Sheet and Novus Works. 

Tony Simpson, Justice Operations Director, Sodexo UK & Ireland, said: "We are delighted to have won this award and want to share this recognition with our many partner organisations who work tirelessly alongside us. We truly believe in the transformative power of gainful employment for people with criminal convictions and are keen to drive recognition of the immense value they can bring to both businesses and the communities they serve.
“Nearly 50,000 people leave prison every year, many emerging with formal qualifications they didn’t have before in construction, cleaning, catering, hospitality, hairdressing and many other areas. They are skilled and job-ready, equipped with the skills, qualifications and experience to transition into the workforce.
“The programme continues and since its launch we have created toolkits for Members of Parliament to use within their constituencies as well as one specifically for businesses to help them proactively engage with our prisons and partners to start the hiring process with prison-leavers.
“We firmly believe that employing people with convictions can add great value to a business and we know for a fact that the impact on individuals and their communities is priceless.”
The Starting Fresh online hub provides bespoke content and a raft of resources including FAQs, skills packs, case studies aimed at supporting prison leavers looking for employment and businesses looking to tap into this under-utilised talent pool.
Sodexo has 30 years’ experience in managing UK prisons on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and Scottish Prison Service and is committed to rehabilitating offenders and providing opportunities for purposeful activity. Sodexo’s employment, education and rehabilitation services give people the support, skills and qualifications they need to lead law-abiding lives in the community on release.

The O2 Unveils Self-Serve Bars Powered by Just Walk Out Technology; The Latest Step Towards a More Seamless Guest Experience #

Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology to speed up service, reduce queues and give fans more time to enjoy the show.

On the 18th of June 2024 The O2, the world’s most popular live entertainment, leisure, and retail destination, reaffirmed its commitment to delivering a best-in-class guest experience by announcing the introduction of self-serve bars, powered by Amazon’s innovative Just Walk Out technology. 

Building on the already successful deployment of self-order kiosks and self-pour drink stations within the arena, Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology is designed to reduce queues so there will be less time waiting and more time for guests to enjoy the show. 

Rolling out this summer, the technology upgrade creates a frictionless food and drink experience, enabling guests to tap in with a contactless payment, grab their chosen drinks and snacks, and go; exiting without the need for a traditional checkout. The O2 is planning to open additional self-serve bars powered by Just Walk Out technology in the future, with a second location set to open later this year. 

The project exemplifies The O2’s ongoing investment in guest experience and solidifies the partnership with Levy UK + Ireland who are committed to innovation and ensuring every moment counts for fans visiting the venue. 

Adam Pearson, Commercial Director, The O2, said: “Our strategic investments in technology are guided by our commitment to creating seamless experiences that our guests really value. The integration of Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology is a direct result of our ongoing efforts, alongside our hospitality partner Levy UK + Ireland, to listen to our guests and implement solutions that meet their expectations for convenience and efficiency at every touchpoint. As the world's leading venue, we don’t stand still and the fan experience will always be a priority for us.” 

Rak Kalidas, Chief Creative Officer, Levy UK + Ireland, added: "Our collaboration with The O2 and Amazon is a powerful example of how we are working together to innovate and enhance the fan experience. This project underscores our dedication to leveraging technology to meet the evolving needs of today’s entertainment venues." 

Jon Jenkins, Vice President of Just Walk Out technology, Amazon, said: “Bringing Just Walk Out technology to a world-class venue like The O2 is an exciting next step in our continued growth in the UK. We look forward to growing our footprint in the years to come, bringing our technology to more locations across the country with Levy UK & Ireland.” 

Just Walk Out technology is made possible by artificial intelligence like computer vision and deep learning techniques, including generative AI, to accurately determine who took what in any retail environment. Amazon built synthetic datasets to mimic millions of realistic shopping scenarios—including variations in store format, lighting conditions, and even crowds of shoppers—to ensure accuracy. Today, Just Walk Out technology is in more than 150 third-party locations across the U.S., UK, Australia, and Canada. 

The introduction of Just Walk Out technology represents the latest step in The O2’s ongoing journey to deliver a best-in-class guest experience at the venue, giving fans more time to do what they love most – enjoying premium live entertainment.

Sodexo announce Modern Recipe collaboration with Great British Menu star Kate Austen #

Sodexo has announced a new collaboration with acclaimed chef Kate Austen and its contemporary workplace dining offer, Modern Recipe.
Earlier this year Kate, recognised as one of the industry’s rising stars, appeared on the BBC’s Great British Menu and became the first female chef in the show’s 19-year history to win the main course dish. Her experience includes Restaurant AOC in Copenhagen where she was the world’s youngest female head chef of a two Michelin star restaurant. Kate has also worked as a sous chef at the three Michelin star Restaurant Frantzen in Sweden and as a senior development chef for Gordon Ramsay.

The new partnership will see Kate work closely with Sodexo's culinary team to co-develop exciting new dishes, conduct seminars and demonstrations; sharing her style, skills, and techniques on how to create delicious and healthy dishes.

In her role Kate will engage and inspire Sodexo’s customers on how contemporary food and dining environments can fuel the body, increase productivity and be sustainably minded. This is the core of Modern Recipe, Sodexo’s contemporary food brand that elevates workplace dining.
Food brings people together, and Sodexo’s Modern Recipe brings together the ingredients that feed our best selves. Built around today’s professionals, Modern Recipe brings the high-street feel into work, transforming under-used corporate restaurants into buzzing, multi-purpose social spaces where colleagues can meet, work and relax over food and drink throughout the day. It uses food that’s in tune with our bodies and in consideration of our planet, with menus evolving as the seasons change.

Kate Austen said: “I am incredibly excited to collaborate with Sodexo as its ambassador for Modern Recipe in the UK. Modern Recipe embodies a contemporary, healthy, and sustainable approach to workplace dining, and I am eager to work alongside Sodexo's talented chefs and showcase this exciting and compelling brand.”

Modern Recipe is a key driver in helping companies deliver a positive workplace experience for their employees. Findings from Sodexo’s Sustainable Food Barometer show that 50% of those polled said they wanted to eat more sustainably at a work restaurant; 58% said they have, or could, stop eating animal proteins in favour of plant proteins, whereas 73% believe that adopting a more sustainable way of eating is urgent.

Modern Recipe is currently at more than 30 selected Sodexo client sites in the UK, within industries including financial services, pharmaceuticals and technology. Outlets range in format from large restaurants, cafés and coffee shops to kitchenettes, micro-markets and smart fridges.
Inna Lim, Director of Marketing & Strategy in Sodexo UK&I Corporate Services, added: “Kate is the perfect fit for Modern Recipe’s overall mission to bring employees healthy and delicious food that provides a moment of human connection. We are passionate about making every moment and every occasion an opportunity for hospitality and with Kate’s talent we look forward to her helping us elevate our goal even further. Her culinary vision and dedication to her art perfectly aligns with our business ethos and brand values and represents a significant step forward in redefining the standards of workplace dining.”
From July 2024, Modern Recipe customers will have the chance to enjoy dishes endorsed by Kate, these include:
Tamari and Ginger Cauliflower Bao Buns: Tamari and ginger flavoured cauliflower bao buns, Asian slaw and charred corn ribs 

Steak and Grains Bowl: Grilled steak, charred courgette ribbons, blackened corn, sun blushed tomato and basil dressed amaranth, which is a sustainable alternative to white rice, wheat and maize 

Korean Style Soy, Sesame and Veg Braised Pollock, Rice and Kimchi Cabbage: Soy braised MSC pollock, jalapeno, onion, garlic, ginger and crushed chili broth, sticky jasmine rice, kimchi cabbage and spring onions

With a shared commitment to sustainability and supporting health and wellbeing through food, this new collaboration with Kate Austen will provide Sodexo’s clients and customers with an unparalleled workplace dining experience.

Game on! Football for footfall! Bestway - the winning match for independent retailers #

Bestway Wholesale, the UK’s largest independent food and drink wholesaler, has launched a major Euros campaign across all its nationwide depots and online, giving customers the elevated and engaging theatre and visual appeal that Bestway has become famous for over the last three years.
The campaign has been designed to support and engage the retailer in their shopping journey as they enter the impressive football stadium entrance tunnel emerging onto the ‘world class’ football pitch, providing a powerful backdrop for the market leading deals throughout the Euros.
For retailers shopping in depot, they will be able to enjoy the atmosphere and join in the fun by showing off their own football skills as well as ‘scoring big’ on impressive deals and promotions from over 14 major supplier brands and their winning deals.  
These campaigns offer great exposure for Bestway’s supplier partners and drive footfall and interest into its depots, helping retail customers to make more profit and energise their own promotions.
Last year, the Cricket World Cup campaign saw an 87% volume uplift across featured products and in 2022, the Football World Cup campaign saw a sales uplift of 24% across the campaign.
In collaboration with key suppliers, the ‘From Pitch to Profits’ Euros campaign has been designed to create extraordinary theatre and immense visual appeal for its 100,000 customers on their Euros shopping journey. The campaign, which has been inspired by the competitiveness and excitement that the Euros brings, will run until the middle of July, with supplier deals and promotions being updated mid-way through the campaign. Additionally, prime space online has been allocated to participating suppliers. 
For those retailers who prefer to shop online, there are Profit On Return (POR) checks on a number of key brands checking the possible profit on return deals. This has been designed as a play on the wording of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) system, a much talked about and fiercely debated technology used in all major footfall tournaments.
There are also some fabulous deals to be had including opportunities to win depot credit, event tickets and merchandise.
Kenton Burchell, Trading Director for Bestway Wholesale and retail, says:
“We are really excited by this year’s Euros campaign and we’re continuously striving to bring unmissable deals to our retailers. We have proven experience on delivering successful campaigns with sales uplifts of up to 87% on product lines featured in the campaign. We’ve tailored top deals for the biggest tournament of the year as a thank you to our customers and to help them optimise their margin and profit.
“We’ve devoted a significant sum to prizes and promotions to help retailers enjoy an even more profitable trading over this period and boost supplier visibility at the same time”.

Bestway’s ‘From Pitch to Profits’ campaign is also supported by an above-line trade press media campaign and through the company’s digital platforms including a Bestway digital ‘takeover’ campaign for the POR checks – which plays a prominent role across its web site.
Burchell concludes:
“We hope the campaign will encourage our retailers to make Bestway their number one choice of where to shop for their Euros products. By doing so, they will be rewarded – our whole aim is help them make more profit for their business and their customers in this summer of sports”.
To view the full details of the campaign, please visit and

Bidcorp UK announces the asset acquisition of Northern Bloc Ice Cream #

Bidcorp UK has announced their latest acquisition of the trade and assets of Northern Bloc Ice Cream Ltd, an independently run ice cream manufacturer supplying retail and food service customers including Booths, the National Trust and Wagamama.
The Leeds-based business, which opened its doors in 2014, offers an impressive range of quality and natural products including vegan, bespoke and bold ice creams in various innovative flavour profiles. They also have a low-sugar ice cream range for children and an ice cream for dogs supporting the Dogs Trust.
Northern Bloc will join Bidcorp UK’s network of manufacturing businesses, which includes Simply Food Solutions and Yarde Farm, and will continue to trade under its well established name.
Jim Gouldie, Supply Chain and Technical Services Director at Bidfood UK said: “We’re delighted to welcome Dirk Mischendahl, Managing Director, and the Northern Bloc team to our Bidcorp UK family.
“Their passion, ethical ethos and reputation for providing great-tasting products at an excellent service completely resonates with our core mission and values. We look forward to supporting the team and expanding their brand presence through multiple routes to market.”

Dirk Mischendahl, Managing Director at Northern Bloc added: “We are very excited about joining the Bidcorp UK group and having the opportunity to continue the journey we started in 2014, creating great flavours and making ice cream centre of plate!”

Sodexo is named on Times Top 50 Employers for Gender Equality 2024 #

Sodexo UK & Ireland has been listed as one of The Times Top 50 Employers for Gender Equality 2024 for its commitment to making gender equality a priority in the workplace.
The Times Top 50 Employers for Gender Equality is the UK’s most highly profiled and well-established list of employers taking clear action in this area as part of their business strategy at all levels. While progress has been made to reduce inequalities in the workplace, they are still prevalent in UK workplaces today, especially in times of economic disruption, such as the aftermath of the pandemic and the rise in the cost of living.
Business in the Community (BITC) has been running The Times Top 50 for 14 years, as part of its Gender Equality work, which focuses on equality for all genders and those who do not identify as a gender. The organisations featured in the list have taken a proactive approach to stamp out inequalities in their workplaces by creating action plans to address disparities ranging from pay to progression.
Applicants were assessed on the work they do to remove gender inequalities in the workplace, including flexible working, family friendly policies, pay, reward, and progression at work.
Sean Haley, CEO, Sodexo UK & Ireland said: “Sodexo has always been a purposeful business, built on the principles of improving quality of life. 
“To live up to our purpose, we must foster a diverse and gender-balanced workforce so that every one of our 30,000 colleagues in the UK and Ireland feels they belong to a team in which they can act with purpose and thrive in their own way.
“At Sodexo, we believe, when women reach their full potential, businesses and society are stronger and more successful, which is why we are committed to increasing the number of women in leadership roles and promoting equal access to career opportunities.
“But creating an inclusive environment, requires meaningful change, and I am proud of the work we have done and the investment we have made. We know there is always more progress to be made but inclusion in The Times and Business in the Community’s Top 50 for Gender Equality 2024, is testament to the fact we are moving in the right direction.”

Sodexo is firmly committed to promoting the advancement of women and empowering women around the world, both at work and in the communities in which it operates.
In April 2023 Sodexo announced a suite of new enhanced benefits for eligible employees including enhanced and equalised maternity, adoption, and paternity paid leave benefits. These new enhanced benefits reinforce Sodexo’s ambition to offer a flexible first culture to help its employees, not just those with caring responsibilities, to balance work and personal commitments in a way that suits them. The new benefits are part of the Sodexo Group’s Vita programme which brings together a common foundation for employee benefits for Sodexo’s eligible employees across the world.
Other initiatives include:
A programme of support and awareness of menopause and endometriosis through the creation of working groups, appointment of champions and internal events such as virtual menopause cafes. The company is working towards becoming an accredited menopause friendly employer and has joined the endometriosis friendly employer scheme. 

SoTogether UK & Ireland employee network provides valuable support by raising awareness of topical issues, providing feedback and insight, and helping Sodexo deliver on its gender strategy.

SoTogether FM employee network specifically focuses on improving gender balance and addressing inequity within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and FM careers. 

Women in security network: through the network’s activities Sodexo currently has 17% representation of women in security positions against an industry standard of 10%. 

Initiatives to tackle sexual harassment and gender based violence.  In addition to guidelines and e-learning training modules Sodexo and the International Union Federation (IUF) have signed a joint intent declaring their support to prevent domestic abuse worldwide.

Sodexo is the first company in its sector to sign this type of joint declaration with the IUF announcing a three-stage framework to drive change globally for gender equity, inclusion and wellbeing. 

The scale of Sodexo’s operational footprint makes it an intrinsic part of many communities and it takes its responsibility to influence gender equally outside of its business seriously. Sodexo’s Stop Hunger Foundation has a strategic focus on women’s empowerment to tackle food insecurity through grant giving and volunteering. Last year, in the UK and Ireland the Foundation supported an estimated 800,000 women through its work with charities operating in areas such as food redistribution and providing refuge for victims of domestic abuse.
Charlotte Woodworth, Gender Equality Director at Business in the Community, said: “Being named as a Times Top 50 employer for gender equality demonstrates Sodexo’s commitment to driving a more equitable, inclusive world.
“But while the employers who made the list are doing great work prioritising gender equality, there is still more work to do. From addressing pay disparities to better supporting those with caring responsibilities, many employees, women among them, still face barriers to finding employment and progressing in their careers.
“It is every employer’s responsibility to play their part in reducing and removing gender inequalities from the workplace, and research shows this isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes business sense.”