THE NEW SUPPLY Chain Inclusion programme launched this summer by Sodexo aimed to open up new markets for small to medium sized suppliers.
Three months on and a third of its participants are being welcomed into Sodexo’s supply chain.
As a people-based business, Sodexo recognises that there is a very clear business case for prioritising diversity and inclusion. This is not just applicable to its people but a commitment extending to Sodexo’s supply chain.
At the end of July, Sodexo welcomed 17 businesses into the inaugural three-month programme. The products and services offered by the participating businesses range from food-based enterprises offering popcorn; sprouted seeds, seed-based snacks; Fairtrade chocolate and seaweed through to non-food suppliers providing; printing services; innovative lighting solutions and food waste to energy units.
Six of the participating businesses are already in the process of being listed with Sodexo, these include:
- Good4U - sprouted seeds and seed-based healthy snacks
- Joe&Sephs – gourmet popcorn
- Yummy Bakes – artisan baker
- Rubies in the Rubble - premium chutneys from perfectly good yet otherwise unused fruit and veg
- Think Ambient - innovative marketing materials
- Mara Seaweed - premium seaweed products including seasonings
The programme came to a close last week when 13 of the participating food businesses attended Sodexo’s annual Salon Culinaire. Held at Ascot Racecourse Sodexo’s Salon Culinaire is a significant culinary competition and supplier event attracting around 1,500 people from across Sodexo’s business including representatives from its clients.
The participating businesses showcased their products in the Artisan Village and were personally introduced to key Sodexo decision makers including executive chefs, food service design teams as well as senior management. As a result of the positive feedback from the event Sodexo is now in the final stages of review with a number of the other businesses to join the Sodexo supply chain.
One of the participants of the programme is Good4U which is owned and managed by the Butler family. Based in Ireland Good4U grow, harvest and pack a range of sprouted seeds and seed mixes. The company was formed in 2004 by mother, Bernie Butler and her daughter, Michelle, a certified dietitian and nutritionist.
Laura O’Sullivan, sales and marketing director at Good4U and also Bernie’s daughter, said of the programme: “As an SME being able to work with a large organisation such as Sodexo has always been an aspiration we have worked towards. This programme is truly fantastic in terms of garnering a better understanding of Sodexo’s business model, company ethos and supply expectations and requirements. We are delighted to be involved in this programme and hope that it will result in a bright future together.”
The Sodexo supply management team worked with a number of partner agencies to select suitable business for the programme, they included: Scotland Food & Drink; Welsh Government; Invest NI; Bord Bia; WEConnect; MSDUK; Social Enterprise and Enterprise Nation.
The three-month programme aimed to help businesses understand how a large organisation such as Sodexo operates in terms of its supply chain. Participants have met buyers from the Sodexo supply management team who have provided valuable insight into how the team work, what they look for and expect of suppliers; and have also spent a day with Sodexo’s main food distributor, Brakes Group, to understand delivery and logistics requirements.
Steve Jobson, buying director, Sodexo UK & Ireland, explains, “We are a large global organisation operating in diverse segments and markets across the world. We can be very difficult to connect with at times and for some simply understanding our supplier selection process and the opportunities open to them can be the first hurdle to overcome.
This programme is all about sharing information on our business requirements and breaking down barriers which historically may have put off SME’s from pitching for our supply contracts. The programme has also been designed to provide a safe environment where we can work together with potential partners for the future and demystify ways of working with large companies such as Sodexo.”
Before launching its own Supply Chain Inclusion programme, Sodexo was the foodservice partner for the EU-funded Access 6 export programme. As a result of its participation in the programme Sodexo welcomed three new SMEs into its supply chain for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Sodexo plans to run its Supply Chain Inclusion programme on an annual basis and working with its partner agencies will begin the selection process for the next programme in early 2016.