From the Hawaiian first night social to the more serious issues of plastic waste, sustainability and healthy eating discussed during the conference sessions, this was certainly the place for caterers to be.
FDH launched Saffron Check at the exhibition and this received a great welcome from visitors. There was much excitement about the features included, particularly the paperless kitchen element as this doesn’t just facilitate efficient data capture but also makes the data readily available in real time and at every level of the business (from head office to individual schools) via Saffron Analytics. Visitors to the Saffron stand saw this as the answer to reducing costs whilst also improving the standard and consistency of the delivery of school meals and it was good to hear we created quite a buzz around the event after hours with our new Saffron solution.
Across the exhibition floor one issue was very obvious: allergens; recent legislation and regulations such as Natasha’s Law are clearly having an impact upon caterers and they are very aware of the necessity to implement solutions to help them manage this vital element.
The conference itself didn’t disappoint in content and I was able to listen to a few of the sessions. Prue Leith was a keynote speaker and she gave an insightful talk about demanding a healthy & sustainable future and how if we want a healthy future, it has to start at school; and that we need to educate children & teach them to cook and eat healthily. She argued that we need to get the sustainability message to children at school so that they would follow this through when they’re older. Another interesting talk was by Liz Bonin, known for her passion to control plastic waste and whose words were certainly inspiring and challenging. Liz gave examples ranging from how 100s of pieces of plastic were found inside chicks – the equivalent of 10kg of plastic in a human’s stomach – to how many of the world’s reefs in SE Asia are already bleached and stressed. This is an area where we can all play our part to improve the environment globally.
The evening’s LACA Awards dinner was a lavish occasion, the opportunity to join with fellow exhibitors & users in a relaxed environment. An interesting feature of the evening is the seating allocation where you are actively separated from colleagues and mix with other attendees. This being ‘forced together’ for the evening provided the opportunity to meet and discuss with others and I now know far more about Muller yoghurts, Yazoo milk and primary school catering than I did before! One of the nominees for the unsung hero award was on my table: Ellie Crookes from the Mortimer Primary School in the NE. Despite our table greeting her nomination with enthusiasm, unfortunately she wasn’t the overall award winner but a top 3 placing in itself is a great achievement, so well done Ellie.
As a company Saffron was well represented amongst the award nominees & it was great to see so many of them amongst the winners on the night, certainly a great endorsement for our solutions. Well done to them all.
To the strains of ‘Tragedy’ from STEPS (no, not the real group), the dancing & networking continued late into the night as attendees continued their discussions and partied away. And the verdict from a LACA conference first timer? An informative and enjoyable insight into the world of the local authority caterer.