Since its opening in October 2007, Messe Stuttgart has been a trendsetter with its sustained commitment to the industry. Luis Nunez, District Manager at Aramark Restaurations GmbH for sports, leisure and trade fair catering, provides information on the subject of "sustainable catering" using the Stuttgart example.
At Aramark, the topic of sustainability extends along the entire value chain, i.e. from the purchase of products to waste disposal. Let's start at the beginning. What about using sustainable and fresh ingredients and why is this important for you?
Luis Nunez: Sustainability and the use of fresh ingredients have always been very important to Aramark and are part of our corporate culture. We want to offer our guests an experience and make sure that they enjoy coming to us. Maximum freshness is a demand that not only the guests but also we have on ourselves. For our employees, handicraft preparation is an important aspect in order to identify with us and the products to be prepared. Quite often they know the suppliers or producers from whom we obtain our goods.
What criteria do you use to select suppliers?
Nunez: Aramark has listed suppliers that we can choose from. In all of them criteria such as quality, traceability of origin and regionality play an important role. When making our selection, we at Messe Stuttgart make sure that we purchase goods that are as regional and seasonal as possible, and that the product characteristics allow optimal further processing.
Are there any ingredients that are made especially for you and what are they?
Nunez: There are products that are produced according to our specifications by medium-sized companies. The reason for this is that Aramark avoids declarable additives wherever possible, but in some areas the market does not offer these ingredients. For certain campaigns we develop together with our partners products that are produced exclusively for Aramark, for example filled pasta or spices in organic quality.
Let's move on to the preparation of the food. What do you pay particular attention to here?
Nunez: For us, staying true to the original recipe is very important. Dishes should be as authentic as possible and be as close as possible to the original in the home country or region. Apart from that, we make sure that the recommended cooking times are not exceeded and that the dishes are served as fresh as possible.
Aramark also designs the lunch menus for the fair employees. As far as the composition of the menus is concerned, what is important to you here?
Nunez: We want to respond to the different needs that a large number of guests bring with them and offer a balanced menu. For example, there is always a vegetarian-vegan menu and so-called clean food as well as dishes with white and red meat.
Vegan, vegetarian or low-carb foods are more and more in demand. Just a fad?
Nunez: We don't think that these relatively young diets are a fad, quite the contrary. We have long since integrated dishes that meet the various wishes of our guests into our menu mix. They are gratefully accepted and it is impossible to imagine the menu without them.
Do you actually cook differently during the trade fair?
Nunez: Our principles remain the same during the exhibition. This means that both the use of fresh ingredients and the fresh preparation of the dishes as well as the menu mix described above are to be adhered to. We also always have at least one regional dish on offer.
Do you also respond to requests or suggestions from trade fair employees or trade fair visitors?
Nunez: For trade fair visitors, I would rather talk about expectations that we try to meet than wishes. We have asked the trade fair staff, who come to us regularly, what their wishes or favourite dishes are and we have incorporated the feedback into our menu plan accordingly.
Let us now leave the kitchen area and look at the service. Does disposable plastic tableware still play a role? And are there alternatives?
Nunez: You won't find disposable plastic tableware here anymore. Our complete range is made from sustainable materials such as cane sugar or palm leaves. When selecting suppliers, we make sure that they deliver the disposable tableware in as little outer packaging as possible, so that we don't produce more waste than necessary. In recent years, we have thus been able to reduce our packaging waste by almost 27 percent. In the future, we want to use even more reusable tableware wherever possible.
What happens with kitchen waste and leftovers? Do they end up in the bin?
Nunez: No, as prescribed, the disposal is handled by the partners of Messe Stuttgart. Leftover food is processed by our Aramark partner Remondis.
Hygiene is not only in Corona times an indispensable requirement in the gastronomy. What are you doing here in terms of sustainability?
Nunez: We also adhere to Aramark's sustainability strategy in the area of hygiene. We take great care to use only environmentally friendly cleaning agents in all areas, including, for example, dispensing with chlorine. We also encourage our team to make sure that we use the correct dosage so that we do not use more detergent than necessary.
Finally, the important topic of "waste management". How do you deal with this?
Nunez: In order not to produce large amounts of waste in the first place, good planning in advance is very important. This starts with purchasing, where we think carefully about what quantities of food we need for what purpose. Of course, this requires a certain amount of experience, we have developed a good feeling for this in the meantime and hardly any leftovers. Now during Corona we have reduced our assortment so that no large quantities are left over.