Q How would you describe your business?
A We're in the care business - producing nutritious and safe food for some of the UK's most vulnerable citizens - and we want it to reach our consumers in the peak of condition. We like to talk about the "moment of truth", the moment when a consumer eats and enjoys one of our meals. Success at that moment is all that matters.
Q What are the current issues facing your customers?
A There are always pressures on care costs, particularly as the number of people needing care will increase significantly. At the same time, it is increasingly evident that a good nutritious diet is an important element in maintaining quality of life. Therefore, we find our customers are looking for meal quality, choice, nutritional balance, food safety and a system for delivering the meals that offers value for money - rather than just cost.
Q How do you help them address these issues?
A We have invested heavily in NPD [new product development] - both great food and systems to make sure our food reaches the consumer in peak condition. Care catering is often not high-profile until something goes wrong. It's then too late to look at improving products and systems. We take a proactive approach by getting close to the market and understanding the real issues. Then we seek to innovate and find new solutions that bring real improvement. For example, the introduction of the Apetito Chefmobil means that meals on wheels are heated on the road to reach temperature at the time of delivery. There are now more than 300 Chefmobils in operation.
Q What are the questions your customers ask most regularly?
A Our primary customers want confidence, want reassurance we can and will do what we say we will. We had 300 people delivering meals on wheels on Christmas Day. All our customers had a hot meal. Our Nutridata website helps customers to build nutritionally balanced menus incorporating special dietary needs.
Our customers want to know we will continue to innovate, not rest on our laurels. I bore my colleagues rigid by banging on about complacency being the disease of the successful. We encourage customers to visit our factory, our NPD centre and distribution depot to see for themselves our continuing investment.
Q What do you believe will be the next big trend in your market?
A It will be nutrition. The over-75s are the fastest-growing age group, and it is this group that suffers most from malnutrition and associated problems. Poor nutrition or dehydration is often the cause of elderly people being hospitalised. There is much to be gained in terms of quality of life for individuals, and cost savings in the NHS, if nutrition in care catering is improved.
Q Long term, where's the business going?
A We have a 10-year track record of sales and profit growth, and that, I believe, we can continue. To do that we need to remember what makes us successful. We love innovation - we got a Queen's Award for Enterprise for it - and continually look for ways to improve. We also place a high priority on sustainability, with a wide range of great initiatives.
But "team Apetito" is the number one factor. Our team is full of passionate and talented people who love to succeed and work as a team. Recently, 200 of us learnt to do the haka, as per New Zealand rugby. It was great teamwork training - you should see us in action.
- Company name Apetito
- Address Canal Road Industrial Estate, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 8RJ
- Telephone 01225 753636
- Annual turnover £600m
- Area of operation UK, Europe, Canada
- Products Prepared meals, desserts and support systems
- Market sectors Healthcare, care homes, education, meals on wheels, Wiltshire Farm Foods home delivery
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