Inside Foodbuy: PT2 - Sourcing Amidst a Global Pandemic

For many businesses operating amidst a global pandemic, agility has been the name of the game. Whether it’s adapting to PPE suddenly being one of the most sought-after products or tendering with suppliers completely remotely and virtually, all facets of the procurement journey have been forced to rethink, react and change to be successful in a Covid world.

For food procurement companies, it’s no different, so we spoke with Harinder Singh, our Head of Strategic Sourcing, to hear how we’ve been innovating our approach to sourcing.

1. Tell us about the Foodbuy strategic sourcing team. 

“Leveraging over £1 billion of annual managed spend, our strategic sourcing team works to negotiate the best possible deals and ensure we’re always offering our clients the greatest quality, at the best value. To ensure this happens, all our food procurement activity follows an award-winning framework with clear owners, activities, triggers and checks. Plus, every project is underpinned by an annual sourcing calendar allowing us to go to market at the optimum time for each specific category”.

2. How has the global pandemic changed the way you go about your day-to-day job?

“Like all organisations and functions, the pandemic has forced us to rethink the way we approach each procurement exercise and change programme. Working remotely is something we have been able to respond to very well, thanks largely to the use of modern-day technology, but one of the most significant changes is not being able to meet with suppliers face-to-face. Online video calls are great, but we’re really looking forward to being able to get back into the office to collaborate and strategise with suppliers in person”.

3. Which sourcing programmes are the team currently working on?

“With over 70+ specialist categories and several client-specific sourcing programmes running at any one time, it’s never quiet in the strategic sourcing team. Some of the key projects we are working on as we speak are: Fresh fish and seafood, food to go, chemicals, grocery wholesale and frozen desserts”.

4. What’s unique about any of those recent sourcing programmes?


“If I had to pick one stand-out, it would be Food to Go. Many of our clients rely heavily on sandwiches, with demand skyrocketing in recent times with some pre-packaged foods being preferred by consumers. And with a category as emotive as sandwiches, it is imperative that we bring together clients, chefs and stakeholders to engage in product sampling session.

To make this possible this year, we ran a virtual sampling week showcasing all our tendering suppliers and products. A digital scorecard was produced, with a different set of products to sample each lunchtime across the working week. At the end of the week, we gathered all the feedback from our stakeholders and even held some focus sessions to discuss everyone’s views. We will be using the scores to help inform our final decision-making process.

It’s great that we have found a way to continue this important sourcing exercise in current circumstances and I’d like to thank the team for thinking on their feet and making it happen so successfully”.

Ryan Holmes, Culinary Director - B&I at Compass Group UK & Ireland commented: “Like so many things, we have had to adapt and change how we approach food tastings for tenders. Normally our day would be spent in the office or the kitchen, but that simply isn’t possible at the current time. Foodbuy have been very innovative in their approach to sampling at home, this has been something that we have had to adjust to and make it a new way of working quickly, whilst ensuring the process is clear and concise for our suppliers”.

5. Do you think any of these new sourcing methods will be here to stay post-Covid?

 “For an exercise like product sampling, I don’t think you can beat being in a room together and discussing feedback with clients, chefs end users or consumers face-to-face, however I have enjoyed the truly anonymous nature of the feedback this year.

That being said, expect companies to continue embracing technology and digital across their procurement processes – it’s something we are passionate about and proud to be leading the way with in the food procurement industry.”


For more information on how you can take advantage of our sourcing expertise and market leading deals, contact us here.