At Churchill Catering, when we talk about sourcing ‘local’ we consider that to be produce sourced within a 25-mile radius. In our latest article, Adam Brough, Head of Churchill Catering, part of the Vertas Group, talks about the additional benefits there are to using local suppliers.
Sourcing local gives us a story to share with our customers, and also gives them confidence in the fact that we – and ultimately they – are supporting local businesses. When we put our menus together at Churchill Catering, we use whatever local produce we can, and make sure that we promote the name of the local producer or brand, as well as how far away from the site it has been sourced. We also tell the story with a map of the area, pinpointing where the food comes from. This builds a visual story of how we support local businesses, which in turn supports the economy of the local area.
As well as Churchill Catering taking actions to ensure that we are sourcing local and being sustainable, it’s crucial for us to understand the sustainability values of our suppliers. It’s important that produce isn’t just sourced close to the site, but we need to know how the food is manufactured and that it is not just packaged and branded locally. Traceability is key to us and to our customers. We have a procurement team that will vet all new suppliers and do site visits, to check that they comply with our policies and requirements.
While using local, sustainable produce isn’t always the most cost-effective solution, using more seasonal menus can help to keep costs down. Plus, we like using local as it’s usually more reliable. Using national providers can be more challenging as supplies, stock and deliveries can fluctuate, but with local produce, the benefit is that it’s only coming from up the road – so there are fewer issues to stand in the way of them providing us with what we need.
As a result of Brexit and Covid, more clients and sites have been driven to realise the benefits of using local produce. We also give our Site Managers the autonomy to choose to use local suppliers – encouraging café managers to be innovative and go out and find new suppliers to work with.
There are many benefits to using local suppliers in the catering sector, and at Churchill Catering we do what we can to ensure that everyone – from the supplier to the end customer – can make sustainable choices. Our customers trust us to provide food that is healthy and/or meets the national requirement in terms of how it’s produced, delivered – and how we serve it.