Inside Foodbuy PT3: Inspiring social value with Dawn Collison

The perception of value is changing and we’re seeing more people making purpose-led decisions – trying to do their bit for communities and society. Homelessness, access to clean drinking water and reducing food waste are all challenges that people around the world are facing – challenges that procurement professionals can really help to influence.

At Foodbuy, we’re committed to creating social value for the benefit of our business, our client’s businesses and society. 

So, we caught up with Head of Category – Retail, Dawn Collison, to share more about the work we are doing to champion all things social value across our supply chain.

1. Tell me about your role at Foodbuy?

“Where to start!? As the Head of Category for Retail, I am responsible for managing the retail category and our branded supply partners, as well as working with clients to unearth new opportunities to deliver innovation. I’m also proud to lead our social procurement strategy - leveraging our scale and purchasing power to create opportunities to give back to communities, people and the planet”.

2. What are social enterprises?

 “Simply put, social enterprises are just like traditional businesses. They sell goods or services. They also aim to make a profit. However, it’s what they do with their profit that sets them apart, reinvesting at least 50% back into a particular social mission or cause.

They represent the best the business world can offer in terms of commerciality and innovation but see business as an opportunity to address global or local social issues faced in the world today. In just about every sector of the economy, social enterprises are operating, growing and thriving. There are now more than 100,000 social enterprises in the UK, employing two million people and contributing £60bn to the UK economy.

At Foodbuy, we believe that social enterprises are essential for a successful future”.

3. How is Foodbuy working with social enterprises to create positive social change? 

“As the largest food procurement company in the UK, we have a big role to play when it comes to buying social. That’s why we became the first company in the food and beverage sector to join the Buy Social Corporate Challenge.

The Challenge brings together corporate partners from a broad range of industries with a collective ambition to spend £1 billion with social enterprises – large businesses are essential to growing the social value movement so it’s great that our size and scale has given us the opportunity to get involved!

Our social procurement strategy sees us work with a number of social enterprise providers including Change Please, an award-winning social enterprise coffee company who are empowering homeless by training them to be baristas and Toast Ale, a business turning surplus, unwanted bread into a ‘planet-saving beer’. What’s even better, some of the surplus bread from our sandwich supplier is used to make the beer – creating a great circular economy in action.

On top of our work with social enterprises, we also work with Certified B Corporations (B-Corps for short). B-Corps are different to social enterprises but highly aligned. They are for-profit businesses that have made a commitment to create a material positive impact on society and the environment through their operations”.

4. What is Foodbuy’s social mission?

“We want to use our purchasing power to change lives and create positive social impact. That’s why everything we do is focussed around ‘procurement with a purpose’.

Our social mission spans many different areas, including social enterprise, local sourcing, buying British and much more. We use our purchasing power to champion local suppliers and sourcing wherever possible. In fact, over 80% of our suppliers are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and more than 80% of our supply chain is made up of British products!

We also have a British-first sourcing policy on all fresh produce and we’re proud to have invested in many longer-term local and British partnerships. And with the government demonstrating their commitment to buying social through new public sector contract legislation, we are proud to be leading the way”.

5. What’s the best thing about your job?

“Working with social enterprises is very rewarding, seeing the results of the work we do first-hand definitely drives my passion for helping people.

Recently we have hit a huge milestone through our partnership with Life Water, providing 250 wells to give over 268,000 people access to clean water!

Knowing that the work we do at Foodbuy is making a positive difference in the world, it drives our ambition to be more than just food. Our people are continuously innovating on behalf of clients and introducing them to the world of social value, meaning our ‘day-to-day’ operations are changing lives and the planet for the better.

It really is amazing to be a part of it.”

To find out more about the work we do with social enterprises click here.