On May 18, the day ‘Mercabarna with the communities’ was held; a half-day activity in which the current situation of the sector was analyzed, and the demands of sustainability in relation to nutrition, educational projects, regulations, purchasing policies and regarding its economic viability were discussed. An event held with full capacity, where professionals from the operating companies, suppliers and administration were able to share concerns and needs. Raimon Bagó, General Manager of SERHS Food, was one of the speakers.
Endorsed by the Foodservice commission of the Mercabarna Food Cluster, the event’s promoter, and with the support of Restauración Colectiva, as a specialist in the sector, for the organization and dissemination of the event, las week the “Mercabanar con las colectividades: cadena de valor hacia unos menús sostenibles y saludables” event took place; an activity in which 150 people signed up, all of them professionals from the RC operating companies and Mercabarna’s supplier firms. The objective, to bring the two groups closer together and to publicize and express concerns and needs of the collective catering sector.
The session was developed through two round tables and included, between one and the other, a brief visit to some spaces of the wholesale market such as the fruit area or the cooperatives.
“It is necessary for people to think and value how the menu arrives at their table every day”
After the welcome from Pablo Vilanova, director of Sustainability, Strategy and Innovation at Mercabarna, and the intervention of Sergio Gil, president of Fundación Restaurantes Sostenibles, who outlined a clear picture of how things are regarding sustainability, where we should evolve and how the restaurant industry can be involved in this paradigm shift, Raimon Bagó intervened as President of Acerco (Catalan Association of Collective Restoration Companies) and of the Foodservice Cluster of Catalonia.
Bagó offered some figures of the sector, especially highlighting and emphasizing that 10% of the citizens residing in Catalonia eat in a collective catering service daily. “There are thousands of meals a day, many of them served to vulnerable people (children, hospital patients, nursing homes…), which force us to be very professional, very responsible, demanding, and also very efficient”. The president of the Catalan employers’ association showed the strengths of the sector, highlighting about all, its resilience and demanding greater visibility and recognition, “it is necessary – he assured- that people know, think and value how the menu arrives at their table every day”. “We are a sector accustomed to suffering, that we weather almost any situation based on professionalism and adaptability, as has been shown in recent years with the issue of the pandemic, above all, but also with the problems of raw materials, transport, supplies, prices, etc.”.
Despite the positive tone of his intervention, “we have not come here to complain”, he did highlight the most serious problem that collective restoration suffers today, which is that of the exaggerated increase in prices… “increases that come to aggravate a situation already serious in itself, and dragged on for years, which keeps the sector without margin for much, since there is no way to pass on these increases”.
Healthy and sustainable menus… a long way to go, a long way to go
Under the genertic title ‘Nutrition, education, sustainability and health’, and moderated by Juanjo Jiménez, Director of Purchases of Aramark Spain, the following took part in the first-round table: Gemma Salvador (nutritionist dietitian of the General Subdirectorate oh Health Promotion. Agència of Public Health of Catalonia), Àngels Roca (general director of F. Roca), Pau López (director of Sustainable Food at Mercabarna) and Mariana Gasca (responsible for Sustainability at Mediterránea).
Gemma Salvador began by giving value to how much has been achieved “although there is still a long way to go”. With rigor, consensus, and a good alignment of all the parties involved, she assured, “it has been possible to advanced based on small changes. From the administration we have tried to contribute documents and research to support the projects of the companies. Recommendations that have taken hold over time and that are what have achieved that today, for example, 90% of school canteens are serving four or five pieces of fresh fruit a week for dessert, banishing industrial pastries and continuous sweets that were served a few years ago”. In this sense, Mariana Gasca emphasized communication and the educational projects that are carried out in many schools… “in the end”, she commented, “in matters related to nutrition, health habits, and sustainability, it is the children who are, in a certain way, educating parents by transferring what they learn in their centers”. Following the line of communication, Àngels Roca wanted to insist on the importance also of training and informing the directors of the schools “ because although it may seem that way to us, because of the environment in which we operate and the implication that we have, the message has not caught on yet… there are still many people to be convinced about the binomial food and health, and health and sustainability that, in the end, end up being indivisible concepts”.
In the end, and in summary, in order to have healthier and more sustainable school cafeterias, and therefore all kinds of communities, Gemma Salvador highlighted five points with which everyone agreed: more vegetable products, reduction of meat, reduction of plastic waste, control of food waste and, all of this, with the collaboration and participation of all parties (operators, suppliers, administration and also all the professionals who are working on the front line in the different services).
Pau López, on his part, insisted on the necessary involvement of all. “Neither Mercabarna as an institution nor wholesale market suppliers can turn a deaf ear to the issue of sustainability”. In fact, he continued, “Mercabarna is devoting a lot of effort and launching various projects and initiatives along these lines. From the very creation of a Sustainable Food Department, to the creation of the Foodback (a pioneer center in food exploitation), the Biomarket or the area of horticultural cooperatives, all our actions are carried out thinking of that paradigm shift that we all must form part”.
Making sustainability profitable
Finally, moderated by Enrique Ordóñez, Corporate Catering Manager at Grupo Quironsalud, the following took part in the second table: Albert Planas (Head of Purchasing and Logistincs at Serunion), Silvia Fillola (Director of Operations at Anna Ecológica – Grupo Veritas), Cristina Massot (Deputy Director General of Agrifood Industries and Quiality of the Department of Cliamte Action, Food and Rural Agenda) and Andrés González (manager of Colevisa).
In this second session, Cristina Massot intervened to comments on the general lines of the recently approved Green Public Procurement Action Plan for Catalonia 2022-2025, a plan approved with the aim of increasing, improving, and advancing in the application of environmental criteria in contracts so that the economic volume of the tenders that include these clauses is increased to 50% in the year 2025. Andrés González, on his part, highlighted that all the regulations that are in project of approved and the recommendations of the different administrations in the line of working and acting in a more sustainable and respectful way with the planet “represent new challenges for companies and also very exciting challenges for all professionals… what happens is that everything has a cost and has to be paid”. In the same sense, Albert Planas assured that the first thing to do “is to revalue the sector, to give it the importance is has and to allocate the necessary resources”. The two representatives of the companies celebrated the start of the conversation about the economic sustainability of the chain, from the point of view of economic efficiency and asked that the administrations work on the issue of the required criteria, keeping their feet on reality.
The table also began to debate on local and ecological products. In this sense, Silvia Fillola highlighted the great advantage for a supplier of “the security of annual planning and regularity, which only a community company can provide”.
SERHS Food Educa has managed the school canteen service of a group of centers of the Bages County Council since 2018. In the last two years, it has participated in a labor and training action promoted by the Public Employment Service of Catalonia and the Ministry of Labor and Social Economy, aimed at carrying out training practices in school canteens or transport services for young people in care and former care with a residence permit, between 16 and 21 years of age. A total of 10 people has ended up being hired by the company each year and that, in terms of SERHS Food, is a high percentatge.
It is about offering an opportunity for job placement and also regularization of the situation to people who at the same time also learn a profession and improve the learning of the Catalan language. This program is part of the values and sensitivity of the company by collaborating to the extent possible in each field of activity and environment in which it works.
TV3 echoed the story on the news, making a report that gathers the experience in the Valldaura school in Manresa of Brahim and the Ababacar Fatty. It can be found at the following link (as of minute 15:06).
Take Eat Easy has made a collaboration agreement with Amazcat, the local online shopping store, to sell the new Healthy & Sustainable cooked dishes on its website and to be able to enjoy them at home, at work or on your weekend outings. The purpose is to offer, based on the Mediterranean Diet, unique, complete dishes, with local and quality products. Balanced and varied meals designed to improve the daily diet.
Take Eat Easy is a new catering solution for companies based on 5th range cooked dishes, specially designed by a dietetics and nutrition team for individual consumption. In companies, and through a dispensing machine with refrigerated products, a wide range of refrigerated cooked dishes with a 15-day expiration date can be found available, arranged by family (PASTA • FISH • VEGGIE • CHICKEN • EGGS • MEAT • GOURMET). They are presented in very complete portions (300-400gr) and quality, ready to eat (microwave for 2-3 minutes). Now with this agreement you can also have them at home or at work by purchasing them on the online portal www.amazcat.cat.
Amazcat is presented as the new Catalan marketplace, focused on the proximity market, the “all-in-one” platform for electronic commerce in Catalonia. It is based on products made, manufactured or sold in Catalonia. You can buy it at a proximity producer or store knowing the origin of the product, with guaranteed quality. The first own online sales platform in Catalonia was launched at the end of October 2021, it has more than 500 associated businesses, and from Amazcat they have foreseen that in the coming weeks there will be about 300,000 users who will access the portal. However, the project is just in the most incipient phase. Parlem-Telecom is one of the benchmark partners, among other companies sensitive to local trade.
In relation to the range of dishes that can be purchased on the portal, it is the same as in the catalogue, about 25 in total that rotate and that can be found in the dispensing machines installed in a significant number of work centers that have opted for this innovative solution in their meals (www.takeeateasy.es). Dishes cooked properly, without haste, ingredient by ingredient, from Mataró’s own High Performance Kitchen. Natural foods, without added preservatives, with long cooking times that provide all the flavor and sweet textures. Artisanal cuisine is combined with innovation with a first-rate team. We work with quality-ecological-km 0 raw materials with the minimum impact of waste and avoiding food waste. 100% recyclable tray, minimizing packaging and at the same time reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint (CO₂).
Since December 2021, the company Gaudium Serhs S.L. which is part of the SERHS Food Division, has been the company awarded the comprehensive kitchen service, operation of the cafeteria and vending machines, as well as other food products of the Cotxeres Comprehensive Health Center (CISC), located in Cotxeres de Borbó of Barcelona.
It is a center with 209 spots for long stays, polyvalent medium stays and sub-acute care. The Day Hospital has 50 beds. SERHS had already provided this service before between 2011 and 2015. New products and service improvements have been incorporated, both in number of diets and in quality, following current healthy and sustainable times.
The feeding system will be based on the evolution of the cold line following the SINC (Security Innovation & Nutrition for Catering by Serhs). It is the only comprehensive management model for health catering where food safety is 100% guaranteed. With more than 10 years of experience in the implementation of the SINC solution in hospital centers, without errors in the management of more than 2,000,000 meals served. They highlight as fundamental aspects individual satisfaction, each patient a unique diet, regularity and variety in food, sustainability in management together with maximum hygiene and food safety.
SERHS Food is the fist and only collective catering company in Spain, in the High Performance Kitchen, certified in the FSSC 22000 v5 standard and which also has ISO 9001:2015 on quality and ISO 22,000:2018 on food safety.
VALORAFOOD consists of an operational group coordinated by the Foodservice Cluster that continues the work carried out by the Llotja de Futurs project. The participants of this operating group are IRTA, RADI S.L, SERHS FOOD, GUSTOS MERITEM and PESCADOS PUIGNAU.
The VALORAFOOD project aims to get to know the fishing and industrial sector of fish processing. Its focus is to identify the real surpluses that fish processing companies have and to design guidelines to revalue the surpluses in the form of new products previously agreed upon. All this is carried out through meetings, visits, focus groups and immersive workshops, among others.
However, before focusing efforts on the development of innovative products with a high nutritional value, it is necessary to know several challenges that are currently unknown to most:
- The quantification of the surpluses of the species to be valued.
- The quantification of the volumes, regularity, and specialization of the different species to be revalued.
- The productive design of the different products to be valued according to the selected species: formula, processing, storage, etc.
- Characteristics that the product should have to be used with Pulse Combustion Dryer technology or others.
- Technical and economic feasibility of the designed products.
Fresh prawn carpaccio, fish burgers, fish sausages, sauces, blue crab powder, pâtés and dry products for instant soups, are some examples of valued products that the consortium has.
Regarding the creation of the new products, these will not only be intended for commercial catering, but also for schools, hospitals, and residences, where there will also be an improvement in nutritional value to prepare dishes for patients with dysphagia and other related diseases.
Innovation is the basis of this project, which seeks to promote the sector with useful, low-emission products that guarantee sustainable development of the coast, as well as increased competitiveness and diversification of the sector.
Within the framework of this operating group, we see an opportunity to create a HUB of knowledge and transformation of surpluses with by-products by other consortia and help the sustainability of certain low-productivity groups.
For more details about the project, you can access here.
During the month of November 2021, SERHS Food was awarded with the new work canteen service, cafeteria and vending service in the facilities of the System of Medical Emergencies (S.E.M.) of the Generalitat of Catalonia. The company has been managing this service since February 2016.
The SEM’s mission is to provide health services 24/365 in order to respond to emergency situations and pre-hospital emergencies, as well as to provide information and health advice, both in ordinary and extraordinary situations. Within the framework of the Department of Health, its objective is to provide a close, proactive, excellent and efficient information, orientation and healthcare service that obtains the satisfaction of the people who live in and visit Catalonia.
This new award has led to the introduction of a significant number of improvements both at the level of spaces, signage, such as the different vending machines, new and more sustainable, personalized, as well as the introduction of healthier, quiality and local products. Premium service is provided for the 400 daily users based on the criteria of the Mediterranean Diet, also contemplating different aspects of specific diets. It highlights the availability of daily vegetarian menus throughout the year. As a novelty, there is also a new solution for catering called Take Eat Easy, based on a dispensing machine (24/365) of fifth-range cooked dishes, specially designed for the workplace. It presents a high rotation of recipes and novelties, dietary control, time savings and maximum food safety and prevention as basic characteristics of the more than 30 recipes, complete unique fishes, offered in the center (veggie, traditional, gourmet). It has also been consolidated as a nutritional support for medical emergency contingencies.
SERHS Food is the first and only collective catering company in Spain, in the High Performance Kitchen, certified in the FSSC 22000 v5 standard and which also has ISO 9001:2015 on quality and ISO 22.000:2018 on food safety.
SERHS Food, together with the Maresme Health Consortium, the Maresme Foundation and the Mataró City Council have started an innovative program to prevent malnutrition in children and adolescents with severe neurological disorders who suffer from dysphagia and who have problems eating and drinking with normality, which affects your health and quality of life.
This project began in 2019 thanks to the money that the Maresme Health Consortium (CSdM) collects from the “El Comer Cura!” Campaign, with the collaboration of the Maresme Foundation and the support of the Mataró City Council.
Now, once the scientific study has been carried out, the program is consolidated through the collaboration of SERHS Food and is integrated as a pilot test in the ordinary operation of the L’Arboç de Mataró school, where most of the students have cerebral palsy.
The project is also possible thanks to the agreement signed with the Mataró City Council, which will contribute € 14,000 per year to offset the extra cost of adapting the diets to the needs of the students.
Phase 1: investigation and diagnosis of the situation
The first objective of the CSdM team of researchers was to evaluate the situation of the students of the L’Arboç school.
The study carried out in 2019 and recently published in the prestigious journal Nutrients shows that all the students had dysphagia, 89% had growth difficulties, 55% were underweight and 70% dehydrated. The study included a chewing, swallowing and nutritional evaluation, an estimate of nutritional and water needs, and the design of a modified texture diet.
“To develop this project, it has been essential to carry out a preliminary research study to measure the dimension of the problem and establish the nutritional needs of the school students based on age and nutritional status based on 4 different phenotypes. All this has allowed us to verify that the affectation is very wide and that the problem is not only their diet, but also their hydration.”, Says Pere Clavé, academic, research and innovation director of the CSdM.
Phase 2: educational program
During this year an online program has been carried out to train people who care for students, both in the school environment (tutors, educators, physiotherapists, nurses, speech therapists, etc.) and at home (formal and informal caregivers), as well as to families.
Cristina Carol, director of the L’Arboç special education school explains that “The more we know about dysphagia, the more we realize the incidence that this disease has in a school like ours, and the more aware we are of its impact on health of our students, all with great neurological affectations. Consequently, it is key that the educational community is aware of dysphagia and knows how to act on it. For this reason, we value this comprehensive intervention of the CSdM very positively to help improve the health and quality of life of our students”.
Phase 3: adapted school cafetería
During this course the school is working on what is known as the Triple Diet Adaptation (TAD); the adaptation of the different calories and proteins of the dishes to the needs of each student, as well as their viscosity and texture, enhancing the organoleptic qualities to make tasty and attractive dishes.
It is in this phase of developing the dishes for the students that Serhs Food has come into action.
This comprehensive intervention program in a school with students with neurological disabilities will serve as a pilot experience to later implement the system in other centers. “We believe that it is a much more widespread problem than it may seem and that is why all the procedures that we have designed in a pioneering way, as well as the development of adapted diets, will also serve for other schools in similar situations”, says Pere Clavé.
Raimon Bagó, general director of SERHS Food, comments that “our main objective has always been individual satisfaction within collective catering. With the adaptation of food to each person entails, one by one, according to their needs. In this case it is even more important and we show our commitment in this collaboration”.
The media have echoed the news. You can see it in La Vanguardia.
The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, inaugurated the 5th edition of Circular Economy Hotspot 2021, an event that, he affirmed, “will allow us to show innovative, courageous and disruptive initiatives and projects” that are being carried out in Catalonia, because “our ambition is to become a benchmark country in the circular economy”. This annual celebration that brings together public representatives and intersectoral companies from Europe and around the world took place in Barcelona from November 15th to the 18th. The Circular Economy Hotspot has already been held previously in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Scotland, and Belgium, with the aim of sharing experiences and strategies on circular economy. The people who participate, about 300, are part of the main European actors involved in the transformation of the current economic and productive model.
Catalonia, the host of this new edition of the Circular Economy Hotspot, has some 400 companies that currently offer circular solutions, of which half export worldwide. During the day and a half of the organized itineraries, some of these initiatives were explored, as well as I+D+I projects, government and successful collaborations.
SERHS Food participated as one of the centers visited in the food sector, which also included Mercabarna, Celler Raimat, IRTA, among other centers of interest. Specifically, the delegation of about 25 professionals visited the facilities of the High-Performance Kitchen (CAR) in Mataró, where the environmental benefits of the activity were shown.
Raimon Bagó, general director of SERHS Food, presented the environmental indicators of the CAR as a sustainable option versus a kitchen in a restaurant, made at home or in a community such as a school. Based on energy consumption, carbon footprint (CO2), waste reduction, packaging or management of local suppliers and logistics distribution, among others, the High-Performance Kitchen objectively presents, based on measurable data, the best environmental option for the preparation of cooked dishes. For the analysis of the data and indicators, we have had the collaboration of Inèdit, a leading company in the sector that was born at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, pioneers in industrial ecology and 12 years of experience and more than 300 national and international clients.
The celebration of this event in Catalonia reinforces the Catalonia Circular hub, a meeting point for companies, institutions and people who provide solutions and strategies to implement and consolidate the circular economy in Catalonia.
In the 32 public schools of Terrassa that SERHS Food manages the dining room service and noon space, this 2021-2022 course, the number of different diets that are prepared each day has increased from 49 last year to 62 this year. It is a question of an important number of different diets that are all therapeutic, determined by medical prescription and, also, as a novelty as of October of this year an ovolatile-vegetarian diet is offered for reasons of ethical or personal decision. Along with diets without meat and without fish due to religious reasons.
From the 62 diets that are currently being prepared for the more than 5,000 children who use the canteen service, the number of children who require personalized nutrition has increased, above all, from 22 last year to 37 this year. It is about meeting the specific dietary needs that in some cases involve a combination of different generic diets or there is some intolerance to ingredients such a fructose, which may be for a child on a specific fruit and for another on another fruit, which cannot be taken. Hence the high degree of customization. Also, diabetic diets have been increased as a remarkable fact. All this must be coordinated with the new premises established by the PREME Plan of the Generalitat for schools in which the introduction of vegetable protein in the menus stand out.
“Without gluten, without pork, no meat, no fish, no eggs, hypocaloric, low in cholesterol… each day we make an important coordination and planning work for the public schools of Terrassa among all those involved” says Lourdes Catalá, responsible of dietetics of SERHS Food. She goes on to say that “this high level of customization that is increasing year by year implies a significant effort at the level of professional resources that is compensated by the better satisfaction in the service that we offer to children of all ages when we are in the schools”.
SERHS Food is a Catalan company with more than 40 years of experience and based in Mataró that serves Terrassa since March 2016. The forecast for this school year 2021-2022 is to improve in areas such as those explained above, differentiated diets, as well as in the greater introduction of ecological products, of proximity, increase the training courses in the internal teams and promote the idea of sustainability in the school canteens. In total, the company manages 200 schools throughout Catalonia, Zaragoza and Oviedo, both the food side and the midday space with the different educational project of each center. Individual satisfaction in collective catering is promoted as the main purpose in the pyramid of values of the company from its very origin.