Sponsored by Johnsons Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Linen
Health and nutrition took on new importance during the pandemic, and workplace caterer Eurest rose to the challenge with a clear mission to improve the wellbeing of its customers.
Eurest is the business and industry arm of Compass Group UK and serves over three million customers daily across 700 sites and nine industry sectors. Although its work on nutrition began pre-pandemic, Covid-19 gave the company a renewed awareness of the role its food could play. Many of Eurest's contracts are with key worker sites, including in food distribution and communications – and the group was keen to support its customers at a critical time.
The company's strategy was based on a food philosophy of ‘flavourful, mindful and planet-positive'. Registered nutritionists analyse all recipes and work with the culinary team to maximise nutritional value. Changes included increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables, using wholegrain rice and pasta on all menus, switching out ingredients to reduce saturated fat, salt and sugar content, and using the British Nutrition Foundation's ‘Find Your Balance' guide to standardise portion sizing.
New menu items were introduced to make healthier choices more attractive. They ranged from colourful ‘Buddha bowls' with two portions of fruit or vegetables, wholegrain carbohydrate and protein; boxed and hot-topped salads; and a series of 100% plant-based meals. Labels such as ‘wholegrain goodness' and ‘two of your five a day' were also used to encourage customers to choose healthy dishes.
These on-site initiatives were expanded across online platforms to reach home workers. Content was included in client newsletters, tailored webinars were hosted, and nutritionists posted regularly on Eurest social media. A virtual ‘kitchen club' teamed up a chef and nutritionist to help give attendees the skills and knowledge to cook healthy meals at home, with some sessions run face to face.
Judges were impressed with Eurest's clear plan and demonstrable results. In the last financial quarter of 2020, the group's average weekly food sales per unit rose 40% after its ‘food philosophy' update. Net fruit and vegetable sales were up 21% and salad sales 10%.
The number of wholegrain-based meals tripled, and 60% more recipes contained two of the recommended five a day. More than 20,000 calories, as well as 996g of fat and 285g of saturated fat, were removed from dishes.
A survey of Eurest regional managers found 90% thought the healthier focus had made a ‘very positive' impact on the business. There was also a significant increase in positive customer feedback on the food offer. Overall, the company's determined efforts to improve the wellbeing of its clients clearly paid off.
What the judges said
"A very interesting entry that stood out for its execution and commitment to nutrition and good food. Some great results from customer surveys and increases in sales of healthy food." - Craig Hancox
"A bold, innovative entry which made clear steps through the pandemic to provide for key workers, among others, to maintain their health. Really aligned to healthy eating habits and very clear improvements in nutrient content of dishes." - Sophie Murray
- Nutrition and Hydration Week
- Restaurant Associates (Eat Well Live Well programme)
- Restaurant Associates (Ways To Be Well programme)
- Judith Gregory, senior client officer, Cardiff Council
- Craig Hancox, general manager, Amadeus at the ICC
- Jo Lewis, external relations and development officer, British Dietetic Association
- Hayley Miller, head of marketing, CH&Co
- Sophie Murray, Head of hydration and nutrition, Sunrise Senior Living