Three-year, £1.4m contract for 3663

Bidvest 3663 has won a £1.4m contract to supply Plymouth City Council with a range of food and catering products for the next three years.

The foodservice specialist has supplied the city council with ambient, frozen and non-food disposables for four years and will now also provide the council’s 71 schools with dairy and bakery following a competitive re-tender.

Plymouth was the first local authority to be awarded the Soil Association’s top food award – the Gold Catering Mark, which recognises the work of the council’s catering team to source local produce – including a range of organic items and ingredients – and developing seasonal recipes and menus.

Paul Brown, business development controller for the education sector at Bidvest 3663 commented: “We’re delighted to be working with such a forward-thinking local authority. With the introduction of the School Food Plan – which starts with UIFSM (Universal Infant Free School Meals) this September – schools will need a foodservice partner they can rely on  to help them through this step-change.

“Our depot is located less than 10 miles from the centre of Plymouth, so we are perfectly placed to cover the 71 schools and academies in the local authority. We also have flexibility within our supply chain, which allows us to introduce new suppliers – where possible – to suit a customer’s particular need. In this instance, we were able to work with more local suppliers, offering them the opportunity to use our depot as a hub. By consolidating all these individual supplier goods, we are able to provide this customer one order, on one delivery and one invoice.”

Brad Pearce, education catering manager at Plymouth City Council said: “We have high standards we wish to maintain, whilst also delivering great quality food options to the young people of Plymouth, but on a controlled budget. One of our main aims was to ensure that we’re able to buy the right produce and ingredients from the right supplier, at the time we need it and for the best price. With UIFSM coming in September, we were also looking to agree new delivery frequencies and volumes with our chosen supplier.”

“In addition, Bidvest 3663 will support us in other areas of our school catering operation, such as creating nutritionally-balanced menus and providing important industry updates. We also have a growing community meals service where we use a number of our school kitchens to freshly prepare hot, tasty and appealing meals which we deliver to some of our older residents. We need a supplier who is able to support us with this initiative 365 days a year.”

As the new contract kicks off Bidvest 3663 will set up a supply panel, made up of members of Plymouth city catering team and the Bidvest 3663 account support team, which will help maintain the schools’ Gold standard by developing local supply initiatives.

In addition to the School Food Plan, Bidvest 3663 is also supporting schools with the new Food Information Regulations (FIR) that come into effect in December 2014.The new FIR regulations stipulate that schools, and other food outlets, must hold enough detailed ingredient information to ensure the parents and pupils can make an informed choice. Importantly, for dietary and health reasons all major allergens must be easily accessible to consumers whether indicated on menus or on request.

Bidvest 3663 has changed all its own brand packaging, and is working with its suppliers, to highlight allergen information more clearly and has compiled a guide, Your Guide to EU Food Information Regulations, on the 14 major allergens which is available as a PDF download from its website www.3663.co.uk/FIR . Schools selling food that does not conform to the regulations run the risk of prosecution and potential fines.

Paul Brown concludes: “We work in partnership with our customers – by providing a broad choice of products and helping schools to develop nutritionally-balanced menus. We know that schools will be facing tough challenges over the next six months with the introduction of the School Food Plan and FIR and we very much see it as our responsibility to help them with these changes, making the transition as easy as possible.”

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