The Hospitality and Catering Supply Chain Roundtable 2017

The Hospitality and Catering Supply Chain Roundtable 2017 took place on Tuesday 25th April 2017 at Café Spice Namaste, hosted by Cyrus Todiwala OBE. The event was conceived by Cyrus, wanting to enable the sharing of knowledge and experience between like-minded people across the hospitality and catering industry, in relation to the food and drink supply chain.

When the event was first announced and we saw more than three hundred people share the announcement through their social media networks, our first insight that Cyrus had raised a topic much in need of airing and debate.

The agenda for the day was in part set by a survey that looked in detail at how supply chains worked, what are food buyers supply chain priorities, and how do they effect the food they serve diners. The results reflected the supply chain priorities currently influencing over two million covers per month.

The results from the survey are now published in a report that is available to our readers, the request form is at the bottom of this article if you would like a copy.

The delegates started arriving at 9.00am in plenty of time for our 10.00am start. Armed with a copy of the survey report they took their seats at the table.

Our host Cyrus opened the Roundtable with an introduction to the day, and each delegate then introduced themselves and outlined their objectives for the day. Beyond GM, Director, Lawrence Woodward OBE, started the ball rolling and the topic immediately focused on sustainability in the supply chain.

One of the over-riding themes that developed in the discussion was the need for more information about sustainability and the supply chain, across all sectors of our industry. Arwyn Watkins, President of The Welsh Culinary Association pointed out that “people drive sustainability and need hard information to make buying decisions”.

Andrew Johnson, Executive Chef at Chamberlains of London, explained with some frustration, “sometimes when new sustainable ingredients are added to the menu, providing the diner with an excellent dining experience, a lack of knowledge or ‘ingredient brand preferences’  can prevent some diners from ordering”.

Money and budgets soon came to the forefront of the discussion. The range of consumer budgets being catered for around the table provided a diverse range of views. Delegates providing meals for hospital patients and school children sat next to others providing some of the finest of fine dining.

Hugh McGivern, a chef with over 30 years’ experience ranging from cooking for many of the European Royal Families to developing recipes for hospital patients suffering with dementia, was to the point. “When we mention sustainability it conjures up a whole host of scenarios and what we as either individuals or companies should be doing to protect the planet for future generations. If we introduce the supply chain and procurement into the equation it becomes a different story, it comes down to budget first and responsibility next, that’s the reality.”

Hugh also suggested that one of the ways we can save money is to encourage more big companies to purchase ‘split cases’. Saying, “sometimes a small business only needs part of a case, with split cases the price goes up invariably and the margin opportunity is then greatly diminished, or lost. Suppliers should cater more for smaller business and have a space on their websites for the purchase of the remains of split cases, after all some of today’s small business are the big businesses of tomorrow”.

There were many calls from delegates for greater dialogue between suppliers and buyers as well as more transparency in supply chain processes. Two leading suppliers, namely the Norwegian Seafood Council and Partners In Purchasing were at the table to reply.

Jack-Robert Moller, UK Director of the Norwegian Seafood Council spoke about Norway’s application to the scientific, sustainable management of wild fisheries. Detailing some of the Norwegian aquaculture techniques, considered to be among the best in the world. As one of the world’s largest producers of seafood, Norway is also at the forefront of sustainable seafood production, a sincere passion for a sustainable supply chain was clearly evident from Jack.

Diana Spellman outlined the culture adopted at Partners In Purchasing, leading procurement consultants in the hospitality and catering industry. “We work with our client’s applying transparency in ethical, sustainable and environmental supply chain solutions, this is at the heart of everything we do.” As Partners In Purchasing source more than 120 million meals a year, this approach certainly works and was covered in some detail amongst delegates.

Some of the survey results however surprised delegates, with the menu options numbers being somewhat contentious. Gareth Waters FIH, Head of Restaurants & Catering at St Andrew’s Healthcare was more than surprised that 8% of the survey respondents still don’t offer vegetarian options. Budgets again drove the conversation and dictated for many what options were available. The disparity between the average private and state school meal budget when discussed accentuated this. Vegetarian options was an issue that warranted more time and some suggested was a standalone subject in its own right.

Working with each other, collaboration, education, transparency, knowledge and experience sharing were common themes, and applied to the discussions around the table.

Ruth Westcott, Sustainable Fish Cities project officer at Sustain recognised that there were many very influential people around the table. She suggested as such that it was the media’s job to listen to them and report on what was being said. There was consensus around the table on Ruth’s remarks, with many other voices encouraging communicating the much discussed ‘transparency’ theme.

The H&C News team were all ears and Publisher Denis Sheehan replied with a promise to publish the thoughts of any or all delegates that wanted to address the subjects debated, however contentious.

The survey results are in some ways equally as interesting to try and interpret as they are to digest, and the open replies emphasised a general need for more clarity and information on GMO’s. Pat Thomas, Director, Beyond GM, suggested that the results stem in part from supply chain fragmentation and a lack of information for consumers as well as hospitality and catering providers.

All too soon two and a half hours had evaporated and it was time to close the formal part of the roundtable and extend it over lunch. Cyrus and Denis thanked everyone for their input and Cyrus closed with a 3,000 year old quote “never to defy nature“, it was appropriate.

Lunch – Weren’t we the lucky ones! Everyone stayed seated and the Café Spice Namaste front of house team started to serve.

Fish for the lunch was supplied by the Norwegian Seafood Council.










Partly over lunch and certainly afterwards it was like musical chairs, many moved around the table to compare notes. Unlike many business events nobody was drifting off, everyone seemed to want to continue. That was certainly the take away theme from the day, ‘more please’.

Feedback from delegates

The survey, and our attendance at the roundtable, have been extremely valuable in forming new partnerships and hearing about the priorities of people across the hospitality sector. We look forward to being involved in work to take this forward, including on how we can develop the agenda to meet future challenges faced by the industry.”

Mark Ainsbury and Anna Morell, Greater London Authority Food Policy Team

I wanted to learn how my peers apply different aspects of supply chain management to their businesses. I did, and I have taken that learning back to operate in my business. Thanks Cyrus and thanks Denis, enjoyable and productive.”

Daksha Mistry, Proprietor, Dakshas Gourmet Catering

“Cyrus and H&C News have struck a chord. Looking around the table and listening to opinions has helped my understanding of procurement and how I can apply the learning from today to my work. I look forward to the next one, developing dialogue on a subject that warrants it.”

Hugh McGivern MCGB. Executive Chef

Sustainability within the Hotel and Catering Industry is somewhat multifaceted. Indeed, ‘sustainable’ has fast become a widely-used buzz-word. But what is becoming increasingly important is the profound understanding for what lies behind this word.

Norway has impeccable standards when it comes to the scientific, sustainable management of our wild fisheries and our aquaculture techniques are considered to be among the best in the world. As one of the world’s largest producers of seafood, we know we are at the forefront of sustainable seafood production, and we take this position very seriously.

Being part of Hospitality & Catering News’ Supply Chain Round Table allowed us to be at the coalface of topical supply chain discussions with likeminded people who are equally passionate and knowledgeable about our industry.

We very much hope that these important discussions will continue at similar events, to determine how best to work together and maintain momentum for driving our industry forward.”

Jack-Robert Møller, UK Director – Norwegian Seafood Council

I think it was a great beginning to what is such a widespread topic. Sustainability has many different meanings and I think it almost needs to be broken down further into topics that are a bit more manageable and easier to discuss, such as plant based eating, farming and livestock, waste and the human resource.”

Chantelle Nicholson – Chef Patron, Tredwells, Group Operations Director, MARCUS WAREING RESTAURANTS

“Partners In Purchasing is privileged to be a sponsor at this round table discussion where we seek to find and exchange solutions for sustainable short chain supply solutions.”

Diana Spellman, Managing Director, Partners In Purchasing

It was great to see a variety of producers, suppliers, hospitality operators and sustainability experts able to discuss the subject under one roof. Hopefully future discussions which bring together such a wide and varied cross-section of our industry will help contribute to the holistic conversation on sustainability and perhaps allow a more systems thinking approach to overcome some of the challenges we face.”

James Ellerby, Senior Lecturer Hospitality, Sheffield Hallam University

Two very important points to conclude on

Firstly some BIG thank you messages…

To all who completed the survey and through doing so, provided valuable information and insight to their supply chain.

To all who attended and contributed on the day.

  • Andrew Jones, Executive Chef Director, Chamberlains of London
  • Anna Morell, Food Policy Team, Greater London Authority
  • Arwyn Watkins, President, Welsh Culinary Association
  • Norman Dinsdale, Senior Lecturer, Hospitality & Culinary Arts, Sheffield Hallam University
  • James Ellerby, Senior Hospitality Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Chantelle Nicholson, Chef Patron, Tredwells & Group Operations Director, Marcus Wareing Restaurants
  • Daksha Mistry, Owner and Chef, Dakshas Gourmet Catering
  • Gareth Waters, Head of Restaurants and Catering, St Andrews Healthcare
  • Hugh McGivern, Consultant Chef, HMT Consulting
  • Marina D’ischia, Director of Business Solutions, Artizian Catering
  • Mark Ainsbury, Principal Policy Officer – Food, Greater London Authority
  • Rob Kurz, Head of Food, Artizian Catering
  • Ruth Westcott, Campaign Coordinator Sustainable Fish Cities, Sustain
  • Steve Fox, Purchasing Director, Bartlett Mitchell
  • Rajina Gurung, Marine Conservation Society

To all who helped conceive, create, sponsor and make the event happen

Cyrus Todiwala OBE & Pervin Todiwala

Gina McAdam, Café Spice Namaste

Pat Thomas & Lawrence Woodward OBE, Beyond GM

Jocelyn Sowden & Jack-Robert Moller, Norwegian Seafood Council

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