Leijona Catering: Feeding the Forces on 100% Sustainable Sourced Fish

The state-owned company Leijona Catering, who cater for Finland’s defence forces, prepare about 70,000 meals a day, and annually purchase foodstuffs with a total value of about 30 million euros. The company has resolved to reduce environmental impacts along the food chain, using responsible food procurement as a key tool.

Leijona Catering also strive to use a high proportion of foodstuffs produced in Finland, while ingredients are selected considering factors including the need to conserve biodiversity. Purchasing practices have also successfully reduced food waste. Packaging sizes have been successfully optimised to better meet the needs of canteens of different sizes. All suppliers must comply with ethical criteria defined by Leijona Catering, whose procurement process was audited in 2013 for the purposes of ISO 9001 certification.

Finnish poultry and sustainably sourced fish well featured on menus

Since Leijona Catering must also provide food for the defence forces during emergencies, the reliability of supply is a crucial factor in procurement decisions. The large volumes involved, and issues related to the need for deliveries to be absolutely guaranteed, constitute considerable challenges.  

The company’s purchasers look closely at the origins of ingredients. All of the chicken they procure comes from poultry raised in Finland. In 2016 about 73% of the fish used by Leijona Catering consisted of fish from stocks that are green-listed in the WWF’s fish guide as sustainably exploitable. No red-listed fish of threatened species or from unsustainably exploited stocks are purchased. Whenever possible MSC-certified fish products are purchased.

In addition to such criteria, another important way to facilitate responsible purchasing is to discuss related issues directly with suppliers to help them add products that meet Leijona’s special needs to their ranges.

Many ways to reduce the environmental impacts of food

Purchasing policies are just one way to promote environmentally friendly food. Recipes can be adapted to reduce the climate impacts of food, particularly by promoting fruits and vegetables. Over the last year the quantities of vegetarian options on offer have doubled.

“Vegetarian options are always offered in canteens serving the defence forces if ordered in advance, but we’ve now planned to try out the idea that our menus will consist totally of vegetarian options on two days a week for a trial period of six weeks,” says Leijona Catering’s communications manager Tarja Österberg.

During the test period the company will closely examine how adding more vegetarian options affects food waste. Menu planners will carefully assess the energy and protein content of the vegetarian options. Important goals constantly prioritised in menu planning and development include improving energy efficiency and reducing food waste.

Environmental considerations still permitted under new public sector procurement legislation

According to Tarja Österberg, Finland’s new legislation on public sector procurement can make responsible procurement challenging at times. “The legal requirements are not always clear, and they leave considerable room for interpretation. One issue is that including more demands in competitive tendering processes increases the risk that complaints will be submitted, delaying the process,” she adds.

Österberg emphasises that the new legislation does not in any way prevent environmental issues from being taken into consideration – and in fact it even encourages purchasers to do this.

More information:
Leijona Catering
Communications manager Tarja Österberg,

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Page last updated 7.6.2018

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