Embracing a Year of Triumphs and Transformations — Andrew Brightmore, Executive Director, Foodbuy Australia

As Australia’s leading national food service and hospitality procurement and supply chain organisation – proudly part of Compass Group Australia, the Foodbuy team works hard to invest in and develop relationships with Australian and international Supply Partners that bring their clients the very best in competitive advantage, ethical sourcing, innovation and ‘Purpose Driven Procurement’.

As previous, this past year brought its own set of supply chain disruptions and challenges alongside many new opportunities.

In this latest interview, we sit down with the Foodbuy Executive Director to reflect on the organisation’s remarkable journey.

We will delve into key achievements, adaptability in a changing industry, sustainability initiatives, and the people, clients, supply partners and investments that sets Foodbuy apart and underpin its continued growth.

Looking back over the past year, what were the key achievements and milestones for Foodbuy Australia?  Can you share some highlights or success stories that stand out to you?

Wow – what a year! I recently read a research paper that defined 2023 as a year defined by “cost, climate and conflict”, and that is certainly true. It was a year that saw an unprecedented number of parallel external events coming together to challenge our industry, our economy and our Australian communities more broadly.

But this follows a sequence of years that have similarly tested our resilience including horrific bushfires, intense floods, critical damage to our road and rail infrastructure and the pandemic.

Through all these challenges, I reflect most on the quality and character of our people – both across our Foodbuy organisation, the 13,000+ service professionals across our parent Compass Group Australian business and those across our Foodbuy client and Supply Partner operations.

The Australian geography is huge and both the complexity and fragility in ensuring, despite all these challenges, that food can safely travel across the country, especially into our regional communities takes every person across this ecosystem to work together with determination and resilience.

I also reflect on the very special Australian spirit to help those most in need. Food security and the basic right for everyone to have surety in their next meal have never been more important. The community programs, individual and collective generosity alongside our partnerships with organisations such as OzHarvest have never been more important or appreciated.

Closer to the Foodbuy home, I reflect on the team and the care they continue to show for each other alongside the relentless passion to support their service colleagues through +750 locations across Australia no matter the challenge. Our focus on supply continuity is critical but it is the genuine care and human interaction for both people we have known for a long time and those we have just met which makes what we do special. How we work reflects our very special culture, speaks to our values and highlights the impact of our Compass Purpose.

At the start of these successive challenges our team came together with 2 simple anchors; “Always lead through our values” and “How we behave today will be our reputation in years to come”.

We have made many decisions this year in how we deliver, pivot, respond and prioritise our focus in response to the specific economic and supply chain challenges but these strong cultural and humanistic elements are what I reflect on with most pride.

The food service and hospitality industry has experienced significant changes and challenges in recent times. How did Foodbuy Australia adapt and support its clients and supply partners through these changes?

For our organisation, our response came from a few key principles;

  • Continued priority focus on people, safety, our service, and our relationship with our clients (the non-negotiables)
  • ‘Back to Basics’ with a focus on core procurement, supply chain continuity, ethical sourcing, and continued quality of relationships with our Supply Partners
  • Pro-active risk management, especially food safety.

Sustainability and responsible sourcing have become increasingly important in the procurement and supply chain. Can you tell us about Foodbuy Australia’s initiatives and progress in promoting sustainability over the past year?

All the global Compass research, complemented by other leading sources, tell us that whilst consumers in a GFC- environment traditionally gravitate to comfort foods and indulgence, the prevailing and long-term post-COVID trend reflects an accelerated appetite for healthier lifestyles. This includes nutritional choices,  our personal health and wellbeing, our communities and the broader global/environmental health. These continue to be key trends our industry should and must embrace.

Whilst these consumer trends are accelerated, they are not new, and they are the core of why we created the Foodbuy WorldFirstTM framework.

Under this framework, over many years we have been investing in products, innovations and supply chains that develop our opportunities across NetZero, social enterprise and our continued support to Australian SMEs, ATSI-owned and other community supply chains – our commitment to ‘Purpose Driven Procurement’.

Over the past year, we have continued to seek, engage and develop new supply solutions across these areas including new SME sources for retail health products, continued growth across our ATSI fresh produce supply chains and our latest developments in Net-Zero meat supply including the amazing products and people at Five Founders and NAPCo.

Coupled with our ethical sourcing, modern slavery and partnerships with SEDEX, OneTrust and many others, as a leading food service procurement organisation our aim, role and responsibility are to continually bring our clients the supply chain opportunities that speak to our shared ‘Purpose’  and support our customers in feeling good about what they eat.

As a leading organisation in your industry, what do you believe sets Foodbuy Australia apart and contributes to its continued success? Are there any new innovations or strategies that have played a role in maintaining your leadership position?

There are many elements that differentiate our approach to the market starting with being part of our parent Compass Group Australian organisation and the broader Compass Group global organisation. The supply chain we bring to our clients is the same supply chain we use for our own operations. The technology we use, the culinary expertise we provide, the food safety and ethical standards we adhere to and the talent we employ are used to deliver great service through our own operations across the country.

We are experienced operators, providers and consumers of our own supply chain which makes us uniquely placed to offer the same to our clients.

For us, whilst the platforms we provide are important, it’s not just about great F&B-tuned technology but rather the passion, talent, experience and understanding of food, food service and service delivery that makes us different.

Our global organisation provides us with international research, insights, innovation and thought leadership that supports our clients to be ahead of the market, to complement their own consumer research, values and growth strategies in addition to early knowledge and adoption of
innovation we can bring to Australia.

Ultimately, we understand food service and hospitality because that is what we do.

Looking ahead to the future, what are the key goals and priorities for Foodbuy Australia in the coming year? Are there any exciting developments, projects, or initiatives on the horizon that you can share with us?

Our future continues to be exciting and fast-paced. The year ahead (and beyond) is all about our continued growth, continued service delivery and further expansion of our services to our clients alongside growth in our team and our capability.

Our list of innovation programs and WorldFirstTM initiatives is long and equally exciting. Stay tuned to (or join us as a Foodbuy client) to know more.


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