Compass Group is a global caterer with locations in over 50 countries. with more than 450,000 employees, to call them a ‘market leader’ would be no overestimation. Its Belgian branch prepare approximately 100,000 quality meals each day. Pittman Seafoods has been a trusted partner for years.
In the past twenty years, Compass Group has grown to become the number one in the catering business. Compass Group Belgium has more than 1,800 employees on its payroll. One of them is Serge Englebert. He’s been working at Compass Group for twenty years. Around fifteen years ago the function title on his name card was ‘Purchaser’.
‘We deliver quality, balanced meals for companies, schools and the healthcare sector. As Eurest we serve companies and government institutions, as Scholarest we offer food services for schools – from kindergarden to university level students – and we are known under the name of Medirest as a food partner for hospitals, care and residential homes, prisons and public social services centres. We are responsible for providing approximately 100,000 meals a day in this country alone.’
RELIABLE SUPPLIERS ARE A MUST, THEN. HOW DOES COMPASS GROUP SELECT ITS SUPPLIERS?
Serge Englebert: That is indeed no mean feat. Usually we issue calls for tenders and make a selection from the responses. And then there are of course various strict conditions to be met. The price per meal is extremely important, but we also have to look at the consistency of the quality – which we see from the required quality labels, the working conditions, the general product knowledge of the potential supplier and so on. A potential partner has to be able to offer us guarantees. Good business figures, profitability, cash flow and risk management are not unimportant in that regard.
HOW EXACTLY DID THE PARTNERSHIP WITH PITTMAN SEAFOODS COME ABOUT?
Serge Englebert:‘In 2010 they won a tender for Compass Group Belgium. Since then they have been a trusted supplier. The partnership continues to run smoothly. Pittman Seafoods provides top quality and that is a big priority. Furthermore, we have never had a single stock shortage and that is something we also appreciate very highly. It’s safe to say that this is one of the better producers in the country when it comes to deep-frozen fish. They offer the support that we look for and their expertise with respect to the Asian fish market is a great strength of theirs. We have great trust in this supplier.’
WHICH FISH DOES COMPASS GROUP BUY FROM PITTMAN SEAFOODS?
Serge Englebert:‘We mainly purchase sawed cubes and steaks of white fish. In addition to this we also order a fair amount of wild salmon fillets. And we shouldn’t forget the large orders of certified pangasius.’
YOU PLACE QUITE A STRONG EMPHASIS ON THE WORD ‘CERTIFIED’.
Serge Englebert:‘Indeed. We at Compass Group are very committed to sustainability. Which is why we developed the ‘Fish passport ID’ in collaboration with Pittman. We use this to help our clients – the schools, restaurants and medical institutions – understand why we go for certain kinds of fish.’
WHAT IS THE FISH PASSPORT EXACTLY?
Serge Englebert:‘We want it to be clear to our clients that we think it is important to consider the future of our company. Compass Group believes it is a duty we share to make an effort to achieve sustainability. Nile perch is a great example. This species of fish does not meet our requirements and for this reason we simply don’t buy it anymore. Offering budget-friendly and quality meals is our core business but everything we do must remain socially responsible.’
YOU JUST MENTIONED THAT THE COST OF FOOD IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR COMPASS GROUP. HOW DOES PITTMAN SEAFOODS MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS IN THIS REGARD?
Serge Englebert:‘If you have to conjure up 100,000 meals a day, your price per meal has to be well thought out. Deviations in weight are unacceptable. And we never have this problem with Pittman Seafoods. We have figured out a weight per portion in consultation with Pittman Seafoods and they stick to it – simple as that.’
ISN’T IT A CHALLENGE TO PREPARE MEALS THAT PLEASE EVERYBODY WHEN YOU’RE SERVING SUCH A LARGE GROUP OF PEOPLE?
Serge Englebert:‘Yes, we work with our nutritionists to try and create meals that are healthy and balanced but also tasty. Above all – and certainly in the medical sector – we must also bear in mind all food allergies and intolerances. Thankfully, we can rely on our suppliers in this regard.’
WHAT OTHER ADVANTAGES ARE THERE OF WORKING WITH PITTMAN SEAFOODS?
Serge Englebert:‘I think that it’s important as a buyer to have a fixed point of contact. Carine is my contact person at Pittman Seafoods and I can always contact her. It doesn’t matter if it’s a question about quality, stock, deliveries or accounting. If she can’t answer my questions herself, she puts me in contact with the right person immediately. It’s that kind of service that allows nice, long-term partnerships to develop, which is of course a win-win situation for both parties.’