The power of collaboration and engagement is key in making change, says Andy Kemp MBE
Over the past 20 years working at Bidfood, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to make changes on a number of issues extremely close to my heart, from the provision of universal free school meals for infants to government initiatives concerning the nutritional content of food.
I’m certainly no saint – it’s no secret that I’ve been able to do this because of the relationships I’ve formed, the boards I sit on that hold influence and because I’ve thrown myself into engaging with people in all areas of the industry.
I believe that collaboration is what instigates change – coming together with a common aim is far more powerful than banging a drum on your own. You’d be surprised how much people are willing to help and support you if you simply engage with them.
The role of foodservice has changed a huge amount over the years. No longer does the industry exist simply to make and distribute food. We have a responsibility to work alongside the government and consumers to challenge the norms of food consumption and enable change for good, whether that be for environmental, health or social benefits.
This is the attitude we are trying to instil in all our teams at Bidfood, from the development chefs through to the sales and marketing staff.
A recent example is the passionate support I have received from my business and industry colleagues in fighting for the cause of universal free school meals. These are crucial to the health, well-being and attainment of so many of our schoolchildren.
However, there is now a pressing need to urge the government to increase the allowance of £2.30 per meal, which has remained the same since its introduction in September 2014, despite inflation.
Our world is changing at an incredible rate, so there will always be something for which to mobilise support. I’d urge all those wanting to be involved in the future of foodservice to throw themselves into it, network and engage until you are blue in the face. Ask for support and equally give support to others as much as you can.
There are some fantastic industry organisations and bodies out there, from LACA and Springboard, through to UK Hospitality and The Clink, which I’ve personally been involved with over the years. There are endless opportunities to help them make a real difference.
The foodservice and hospitality industry is an incredibly interesting sector in which to work, and it’s important that it appeals to the next generation of workers and change-makers. It needs to continue to be a colourful and creative sector that doesn’t simply place value on profit, but also considers how its work fits in with the bigger picture.
It’s great that we are starting to place more value on good food. The UK food scene is thriving – it’s seen so much change in recent years, particularly with changing consumer tastes and requirements – and it’s exciting to look to the future. There will be hurdles to overcome, challenges to face, but if we can come together wherever possible, we’ve got the best shot at making a success of it.
Andy Kemp is the sales and marketing director at Bidfood