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Sustainable sourcing in food services

Food

Sourcing from the source – Enriching the lives of the farmer community

Traditionally, food services companies had been largely dependent on local warehouses and cold storages to source food materials; but not anymore. COVID stressed on the significance of local sourcing as the lockdown affected mobility of goods and people.

With the primary objective of sustainably developing the local economy by building an interrupted supply chain network leading to a more balanced ecosystem, food services companies are increasingly associating with local farmers and related NGOs to buy fresh farm produce; Sodexo India is leading the way.

The importance of local sourcing is slowly coming to the fore. To begin with, it benefits the farmer, who is the first link in the supply chain and invests his entire lifetime in growing food. He no longer has to carry his produce to the local market and negotiate with the middlemen. He now gets an assured value for his hard work from food services organizations that buy his complete stock, hardly leaving anything to perish. 

The second link in the supply chain is the food services organization. By buying directly from the local farmers, the company is assured of fresh produce on a daily basis. These organizations can do their menu planning, knowing the produce they can get daily. The fresh vegetables, dairy products, fish and poultry items are an inspiration to the chefs who can plan several unique healthy and nutritious items for the employees and other on-site staff. Besides, they can buy in bulk for a competitive price that benefits the organization and the client in turn. 

The third link is the employee or the consumer. The Gen Z consumers are quite conscious about their health that is largely dependent on food. They are more concerned about the food experience and want to know about the entire journey of the food from farm to plate. They prefer fresh and nutritious meals that are also tasty to the palate.

Finally, this supply chain sustainability is beneficial for the entire ecosystem. With food waste being extremely minimized, there are no poisonous gases or rotting food to pollute the environment. Proper food planning and zero wastage also aid the community and the economy to flourish.

How Sodexo has taken the lead in local sourcing

Sustainability and quality of life are synergistic with the core values of Sodexo, hence the company has always been on the lookout to build a robust supply chain network. Food services being the mainstay of the organization, it has tried to find out local sources to procure its daily raw food materials to benefit the entire ecosystem. This search has led the company to associate with Devnadi Valley Agriculture Producers Company Ltd. (DVAPCL).

Located near Nasik, the Devnadi Valley Agriculture Producers Company (DVAPCL) is the first producer company in India. Established in 2011 with the farmers themselves as the primary stakeholders, it now has over 1000 farmers spread across 30 villages as a part of this growing company. Inadequate bargaining power to sell their produce resulting in plummeting incomes led them to create this company and earn an assured income.

Sodexo’s initiative to work with the organization began in June 2019. DVAPCL is located quite close to Sodexo’s healthcare site SMBT Medical College and Hospital in Ghoti, Maharashtra. The proximity is ideal for sourcing fresh food. In FY 2020, the relationship expanded to cover sourcing of fresh fruits and vegetables for auto sites as well.

“Over 300 metric tons of fresh fruits and vegetables have been supplied to Sodexo’s corporate and healthcare sites in FY2020 - supplies were higher in the COVID period when the APMC markets were closed. The association has greatly supported small farmers of the region to gain a good and consistent income and continue to do farming. The steady flow of income has also helped us to withstand price fluctuations and remain self-reliant,” said the head of DVAPCL.

 

Sodexo chefs onsite use fresh produce and ingredients to make healthy and delicious food items that appeal to the consumers. All care is taken to adhere to the food safety norms and only the finest and freshest food is sourced to meet the nutritional needs of consumers. Besides, the ideal location of DVAPCL near the site ensures savings in transportation costs. There is a shorter turnaround time for sourcing the food and food wastage is also minimized with almost zero food perishables. 

Sustainable sourcing has indeed proved to be a wonderful initiative by Sodexo and the company is on the search of many more such fruitful associations to enrich the ecosystem. 

October 16, 2020

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