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Compass & Sodexo predict what’s in store for 2024

26th Jan 2024 - 04:00
Public Sector Catering invited Sean Haley, chief executive of Sodexo UK & Ireland, and Robin Mills, chief executive of Compass Group UK & Ireland, to take a long into their crystal balls.

Sean Haley

I believe 2024 will be the year when we see a broader and deeper understanding of sustainable eating. We anticipate, and our own research shows, that consumers will need to start challenging their assumptions about the food they eat if they are to understand the nuance and complexity that goes into a sustainable diet.

This will be, at least in part, driven by a growing number of food brands and food service providers – ourselves included – featuring carbon labelling on goods and menus. In alignment with this, brands and food service businesses will be talking increasingly about lower-carbon menus – and what constitutes a low-carbon meal – aligned to the science.

The knock-on effect of this will be an overdue increased appreciation of the impact of food systems – including food production, consumption and waste – on climate. A crucial development for net zero ambitions, given that around a third of all greenhouse gas emissions are generated in this way.

Robin Mills

Looking ahead, I am optimistic for 2024. As an industry, we have continued to demonstrate the benefits outsourcing brings, becoming more agile and forward looking, to truly deliver for our clients and consumers. Operating in a high inflationary environment has meant that our industry has continued to innovate and adapt, to ensure we are able to deliver value, without compromising on quality.

Following a strong period of growth achieved over the past year, it’s encouraging that there are no signs of this slowing. The increase in first-time outsourcing, as more businesses look to focus on their core specialities, points to a positive future for our industry.

We are hugely proud of the work our people do, in particular supporting with public service organisations, who operate in highly complex environments, often 24/7. Within the NHS, quite rightly, there is now a mandate for the provision of 24/7 food for staff.

Whether it’s the NHS, police, education or defence, we have been adapting our operating models and using technology to meet their evolving needs. A great example of this is the use of frictionless stores, having launched two in defence and healthcare settings this year - they provide quality, choice and convenience.

Within the private sector, the drive to get employees back to the office has seen food and drink front and centre in talent attraction, retention and wellbeing strategies.

Our activity is underpinned by our work to deliver climate Net Zero by 2030 and to drive social value in the communities we serve. Highlights for me include our chefs tapping into their creativity and reformulating our 90,000 recipes to reduce their carbon impact - through using more local and seasonal produce, as well as increasing plant-based options.

Also, our Chartwells team has delivered educational Beyond the Chartwells Kitchen workshops focused on nutrition and health, cooking and food, and sustainability, to over 100,000 children and parents.

Written by
Edward Waddell