Food is important, and that is why we at Fazer want to make sure that everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, gets to eat well.

  Writer: Tuomas Nurmela
Tuomas Nurmela is responsible for Fazer Food Services Finland’s public-sector customer relationships in Finland. In practice, Tuomas and his team work with municipalities, hospital districts and companies and communities that provide services to the public sector. Tuomas firmly believes that partnership can guarantee the right and the opportunity to eat well at every age. Fazer Food Services is part of the Fazer family business, and provides food services in more than 600 restaurants throughout Finland for children, students, working people and seniors.

Responsibility, one portion at a time

Food is something that’s close to everyone’s heart. One person remembers their favourite food in school, another what they hated most, and another is concerned about the healthiness of the meals served to their children or elderly parents. Food is important, and that is why we at Fazer want to make sure that everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, gets to eat well.

We believe that we will achieve the best result as a partner of municipalities, hospital districtsand future provinces. Responsible partnership is built on a relationship of trust in which even difficult questions can be asked and answered, and in which both parties make responsible, sustainable choices.

For us, responsibility is all-encompassing care for customers and staff alike. Bold and enthusiastic Fazer personnel work in a total of over 3,300 restaurants throughout Finland. With the help of our versatile expert team, they provide over 130,000 lunches daily.

Our customers’ wishes are taken into account in our development work. Future school meals are developed based on feedback from students and teachers, and we will work with the social and healthcare services of the Satakunta region to determine the most suitable foods for senior citizens. In other words, customers are involved in influencing our recipes and selections, in the process helping to make each and every restaurant just right for the people it serves.

Sustainable choices are also concrete things for us. We are committed to using f.ex. domestic meat, WWF recommendations conforming fish and domestic dairy products. In addition, we have systematically increased the share of vegetables and vegetarian dishes served in our restaurants. We want to ensure that both our customers and restaurant customers, as well as those close to them, do not need to worry about the quality of food, and can rest assured that all nutritional recommendations are met. We take care of this on their behalf.

We care what parents, relatives and municipal decision-makers think

To gain a better understanding of future needs and people’s expectations and topics for discussion, in early 2018 we surveyed the views of the parents and guardians of schoolchildren and carers of senior citizens. In a separate survey carried out at the same time, we examined the views of municipal decision-makers on the same topics.

Concern for the wellbeing of both children and the elderly is shared by parents, relatives and decision-makers.

Overall, the respondents felt that food for schoolchildren must have enough energy to keep them going throughout the school day, and must be nutritious to support their learning. In addition, nutritious and tasty food makes it possible to experiment with new flavours, strengthens the social dimension of food and eating, and thereby supports schools in teaching the young about healthy eating.

Both studies highlighted the need for dialogue between food service organisers, service providers, customers, and their parents, guardians or carers.

The need for discussion

True partnership is not possible without open and broad-minded discussion. We at Fazer believe that by opening the channels of discussion, we can improve our work even further. We do what we can to foster dialogue in many ways, such as by being present in different fora and drawing on research to guide discussion.

Here are just a few examples of the ways in which we’re actively seeking opportunities for discussion:

  • The #Fazerkuntakeskustelu series began at the beginning of the year in Vantaa, and continued in April in Pori. The discussion series will continue in the autumn with new events.
  • In July, we will meet with stakeholders in SuomiAreena, and on 19 July we are holding a discussion on responsibility and the future of public restaurant services under the coming social and healthcare reforms in Finland. Read more about the event here.
  • School meals have now been served in Finland for 70 years, and, both in our restaurants and in discussions with decision-makers, Fazer is helping to highlight the importance of school meals. Finland’s high-quality and varied school meals system deserves to be valued.

In addition to these meetings, we regularly meet decision-makers and officials throughout Finland. Our goal is to strengthen partnerships to help us ensure that people of all ages can eat well.

Expectations for municipal and provincial decision-makers

We have clear ideas on how municipalities, hospital districts and the future provinces can improve the conditions for genuine partnership. The delays in Finland’s social and healthcare reforms and regional reforms actually give us some extra time to prepare for the careful implementation of meal services. After all, the provision of daycare and school meal services differs from the food services for sheltered accommodation or hospitals, for example.

We hope that service providers will be invited to openly discuss with us the arrangement of catering services in the future. Detailed discussions are a first step, because what works in putting health services out for tender is not necessary going to work for food services.

Emphasising the role of responsibility in procurement is another matter that can be used to bring improvements with regard to environmental matters, for example. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has prepared what it called a Motiva list of criteria for taking account of factors such as the degree of domesticity of food ingredients, for example.

Together we can guarantee that everyone can eat well, as is their right. Together we can make food with a purpose.