City of Rovaniemi Food and Hygiene Services: Close Contacts with Suppliers Essential When Prioritising Local Foods

One of the main goals of the City of Rovaniemi’s food services department is to increasingly use local foods. Products including bread, cabbages, carrots, fish and game are readily available from local producers and suppliers. The city has found that purchasing directly from producers is a good way to increase the use of local foodstuffs.

“We can collaborate with small-scale suppliers when we don’t need large quantities of a particular product,” explains the City of Rovaniemi’ food services director Hajnalka Kiss-Herttua.

In the public sector, catering service purchasers must set requirements on issues such as the amounts of salt in products, and the nature of distribution chains. “For this reason we must actively explain our needs and wishes to producers, to enable them to supply us with suitable products,” adds Kiss-Herttua.

In Rovaniemi, small-scale producers’ food products are largely used in the tourism sector. “Since we can’t afford to buy expensive products like game meat regularly, local producers cannot base their activities on demand from the public sector alone,” explains Kiss-Herttua.

Purchasing policies also incorporate social responsibility by specifying that suppliers who employ a person who has had difficulties entering the labour market will be favoured in the competitive tendering processes.

Sufficient resources and effective criteria essential to responsible purchasing

“Defining criteria for procurement processes can be difficult, so the new guidelines on purchasing criteria will certainly be useful for us,” says Kiss-Herttua. “In relation to purchases of frozen rainbow trout, for instance, we’ve been considering whether we should include among the criteria the use in fish farms of fodder made of fish that can be caught to help slow the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. We also hope to increase the use of lake fish as ingredients in processed fish products, and we’re thinking about developing our recipes to use such products more. We’re also willing to help suppliers by explaining what kinds of products, packed in which ways, we can best use.”

Purchasers working for municipal food services departments have to find their way through a jungle of different requirements and objectives. “Decision-makers have to be committed and sympathetic with regard to the whole picture. For example, it’s just impossible to insist on using 100% organically produced milk when we’re talking about such high volumes and such conditions,” points out Kiss-Herttua. “You also need to have sufficient financial resources available to allow you to consider other options than the cheapest alternatives.”

Reducing environmental impacts through menu planning and energy efficiency

The City of Rovaniemi’s food services department prioritises responsibility in other areas in addition to purchasing. Related policies include energy efficiency measures and the consideration of environmental impacts when planning menus.

Restaurants run by the city’s food services department have vegetarian food days once a week. Meat products with less harmful environmental impacts are preferred. The overall environmental impacts of poultry production are less harmful than those resulting from cattle farming, so chicken is widely favoured in menus. “We’re striving to adapt our recipes to favour the use of chicken instead of beef in frequently served meat-based dishes such as lasagne,” explains Kiss-Herttua.

Energy efficiency is prioritised when procuring energy-consuming appliances, while the numbers of delivery journeys have been reduced, and the energy efficiency of kitchens has been improved by switching to larger kitchens and making catering operations more centralised.

Food waste is another issue being closely followed. The amounts of food wasted in each kitchen are monitored on a daily basis, with figures compiled at the level of the whole organisation about four times a year. Caterers strive to prepare the right amounts of food, so as to minimise waste. An agreement has been made with local pensioners’ organisations to enable them to fetch and use any surplus food at no charge. Staff members and restaurant customers may also buy leftover food, using a pricelist drawn up for this purpose.

More information:
City of Rovaniemi
Food services director Hajnalka Kiss-Herttua

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Page last updated 7.6.2018

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