Damien Pénin, CEO of the education market at Elior France: "At the start of the school year, we will begin deploying Nutri-Score in middle and high schools"
You have been testing Nutri-Score in school canteens for a year. What are your objectives regarding the deployment of this nutritional tool in the coming months?
DP We are the first, and the only, contract catering company to deploy Nutri-Score on a massive scale in France after having tested the tool successfully in several establishments. As of the beginning of the school year in September, we will be rolling out this nutritional tool in all the middle and high-school canteens we manage.
Although complications experienced during the past year and a half delayed our initial schedule, we pursued our trials. This enabled us to obtain feedback from the students and their parents, and gave us the time to inform parent associations. We are now stepping up the tool’s deployment for middle and high school students. Concerning children in nursery and primary schools, our objective is to deploy Nutri-Score in April 2022. Deployment for this age group is more time-consuming given that the issue is different since we are addressing the parents rather than the children directly.
What is the purpose of Nutri-Score in canteens?
DP Eating habits are cultivated from an early age. In conjunction with students, their parents, school directors and public authorities, we are deploying Nutri-Score to educate children about healthy and tasty food. Nutri-Score serves to inform young people and their parents about the nutritional value of the meals consumed in the school canteen and enables them to manage the nutritional balance of their meals over several meals. In this way, we are supporting the government's public health strategy: better nutrition, balanced diet, and the prevention of obesity.
Despite the sanitary context and the menu adaptations we were sometimes obliged to make during this complicated sanitary period, no modifications were made at the expense of health and quality. Each student in every school receives a healthy and balanced meal.
Our responsibility is to provide solutions to improve public health as well as to respond to major societal challenges such sustainable agriculture, the reduction of food waste and the creation of skilled jobs. After the Nutri-Score, our next priority for the fall is to become more anchored in the territories by increasing the percentage of our local purchases. By offering children balanced meals made from quality products, we are playing a role in this societal, social and environmental revolution.
Our responsibility is to provide solutions to improve public health as well as to respond to major societal challenges.
Damien Pénin - CEO of the education market at Elior France
Responsible procurement is key for your Group. What is your roadmap?
DP A responsible sourcing strategy is key to limiting our carbon impact. Our objective is that the proportion of sustainable products accounts for 50% of the meals we serve. This requires a return to basics which will be achieved by reducing the amount of our imported purchases and increasing our seasonal product purchases. This will enable us to cook better tasting products with greater ease.
At present, 81% of the products we serve in school canteens are French, 100% of fruit purees are made from eco-responsible orchard fruit, and 100% of our apple, pear, carrot, salad and potato supplies are sourced locally; a momentum we would like to step up.
To achieve this, we have set up 12 regional basins which are led by a team of regional directors, and delimited according to local agricultural reality, employment basins, administrative divisions and the culinary history of the territories. To stimulate these basins, specialized buyers will be exclusively in charge of referencing and interacting with the local partner producers.