Hospital Catering / NL

Pioneer in convenience

Exemplary: Lunch in a German hospital. In the Netherlands, people often focus on convenience.
Imago Images / Joker
Exemplary: Lunch in a German hospital. In the Netherlands, people often focus on convenience.

The Netherlands are among the pioneers in the convenience sector. This is not only evident in the retail sector. The neighbouring country is demonstrating how to use high-quality convenience solutions to optimise processes in hospital catering.

This text is part of our special "Symplify your Business". Read now!   Editor's note: The research was conducted before the corona crisis.

Anyone who has ever shopped in a Dutch supermarket knows that the shops of our European neighbours are often one step ahead of German markets when it comes to new sales concepts. This is particularly evident with fresh convenience. Very early on, when there was hardly any talk of "ready to cook", Dutch retailers offered an extremely comprehensive selection of ready-to-cook food.

Less fear of contact with finished products

"The Dutch have a different mentality and a different attitude towards convenience products than the Germans. They were very open to everything that was ready at an early stage and have little fear of contact when dealing with it," says Norbert Neuwahl, Managing Director of the Agency for Innovative Marketing (AIM), explaining the neighbours' preference for ready-made products.

The growing demand for fresh meals is being met by retailers with ever higher quality convenience products. The supermarkets are becoming more and more gastronomic, which is causing the Dutch catering industry a lot of trouble.

Pragmatic hospital catering

Aligning processes pragmatically with the demands of the times - the Dutch are also demonstrating this in another area: with innovative approaches to catering in hospitals. "On this point, the Dutch are ten years ahead of the German market," says industry expert Michael Möhring, who has already visited various clinics in the neighboring countries with his ErfaFoodservice network.

Ten years ago, the country, which has one of the most advanced healthcare systems in Europe, was faced with exactly the same problems as the clinics in this country: increasing shortages of skilled workers and outdated kitchens required new solutions that were economical and met the needs of tomorrow's patients.

Hospital without production kitchen

Many Dutch clinics are now breaking new ground and relying on the purchase of high-convenience products and decentralised ward kitchens. One of the pioneers is Maasstad Ziekenhuis in Rotterdam. Opened in 2011, this establishment no longer has its own production kitchen. As in a hotel, patients choose breakfast and lunch from mobile buffets, and in the evening they eat à la carte.

All menus are based on meals that are delivered frozen and ready to plate by the Dutch food producer Marfo and are regenerated in the ward kitchens. With a range of more than 50 different dishes, the hospital can cater for various types of food, dietary requirements and different eating cultures.
Via decoupled system
Dutch hospitals increasingly rely on decoupled systems for patient care. External meal suppliers deliver frozen or chilled complete meals that are regenerated on site in ward kitchens.

  • mealtimes 24/7
  • personal care of the patients by service personnel
  • high patient satisfaction
  • large selection, many diet and food forms
  • high grade
  • less food waste
  • fixed food costs
  • no own production kitchen necessary
  • streamlined logistics

The system is not only economical, but also much more patient-friendly, says Wolfgang Schohl, manager of Marfo Germany. "Thanks to the decentralized supply, the processes are distributed throughout the day. There are no more rigid meal times. Breakfast can also be served at 9.30 am. You are completely free." The fact that service staff, not nurses, serve the patients makes the latter feel better cared for.

At the Enschede Hospital, patients can also access a wide range of catering services almost around the clock. There, meal producer Huuskes delivers chilled fresh food, which is then regenerated in four ward kitchens. The company has over 3,000 products with 19,000 recipes in its range, which can be finished in uniform cooking stages. Whether supermarket or hospital: for the Dutch, the advantages of using convenience outweigh the disadvantages: more time for the essentials – for family, patients or customers.
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