Stephen Brennan, Supply Chain and Procurement Director for Northern Europe, reflects on the Producer Showcase, which took place at this year’s Ireland’s Catex Foodservice show at the RDS
At the start of November, I was delighted to again host Aramark’s Producer Showcase, which took place at this year’s Catex Foodservice Show at Dublin’s RDS.
Three showcases in, the Producer Showcase puts our commitment to Irish SME’s and local producers into action in the most visible terms, and offers smaller Irish businesses, who are participating in Catex, an opportunity to become one of Aramark’s suppliers in Ireland. This year’s showcase was highly anticipated, and no different to what we would expect from such a high calibre audience – particularly as it was the first in-person event Aramark has attended in Ireland since the pandemic.
The showcase is a fantastic opportunity for up-and-coming Irish companies to become part of the Aramark business, which is something I’m passionate about. We’ve run the event for several years now in partnership with the Catex team - previous success stories who have gone onto become permanent suppliers to Aramark include Le Patisserie and Redmond Fine Foods.
This year, we had seven Irish businesses pitch their products to a panel of Aramark Northern Europe’s senior team. Initially, we were delighted with over 30 quality applications, but it was a real challenge to narrow down to just seven finalists.
Each business has 30 minutes to introduce and pitch their business to the panellists. This year’s participants brought a real mix of products, solutions and innovations. Plant-It, spoke to us about their Irish made plant-based products and the wider sustainability mission they are on. Pizza Si and Absolutely Fabulous Foods kept our panel topped up with their tasty pizza solutions. Good4U, a Sligo company who have achieved great success exporting to the UK retail market, presented their salad toppers and breakfast supplement products, whilst Coffee House Lane and Bare Roasters kept everybody alert with their high quality Irish roasted coffee and cold brew, respectively. It wasn’t all about food, as the panel also meant Martin from “Mak Group” who caught their interest with the Ecodyger composting machine.
As one of the largest buyers of Irish food, it’s important that Aramark are at the forefront meeting new and progressive businesses, offering them support and guidance, and showing that they too can have their products feature in hundreds of locations across the country from healthcare, sports and leisure, education and retail venues, which Aramark manage. It is great to see there is never a shortage of fantastic entrepreneurial businesses, bringing fantastic domestic produce to the market.
It really was an exciting, busy day and fantastic to get to meet so many passionate producers and entrepreneurs. The next step involves the Aramark panel reviewing the potential of each opportunity, before a final shortlist is agreed. The successful businesses will then be engaged and further discussions, sampling, planning and mentoring with the aim to introduce their business and products into the Aramark group as we move into 2022.
If this sounds like an event you would like to be part of in the future, watch out for Catex 2023, taking place in the RDS in February 2023. Aramark will once again host the Producer Showcase and I look forward to meeting many more Irish business to build on the success of the program to date.