Commercial opportunity flows from inclusiveness

Posted by Kelly Beaulieu, Founder and owner of Canadian Prairie Garden Purees and status Ojibwa from the Sandy Bay First Nation in Manitoba

Sodexo Canada was recently named winner of the 2016 Tier 1 Champion of Supplier Diversity Award by the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Suppliers Council (CAMSC).

From my perspective as an Aboriginal business owner who has worked closely with Sodexo since 2013, this recognition is richly deserved. Our company, Canadian Prairie Garden Purees (CPG), supplies Sodexo’s food service and healthcare divisions with premium quality fruit, vegetable and pulse purees.

From the very beginning of our partnership, Sodexo’s welcoming attitude, genuine interest in our success and strong mentorship has helped our team maximize the commercial value of our products. Thanks to this profoundly positive support we are now well positioned to meet Sodexo’s demanding standards and grow our sales to Sodexo and other food service companies.
Virtually everyone we deal with recognizes the commercial potential of our products and assists us in meeting Sodexo’s specific supply procedures and requirements.

The constructive advice we receive about “best management practices” for everything from trucking and distribution streams to labelling and quality assurance processes is of enormous value to CPG.

I would also like to give a special shout out to Corporate Chef, Reg Pearce, Shiva Manishankar, Senior Management, Value, and Chris Fry, Vice President, Ontrak & Supply Management. We met with Reg, Shiva and Chris in 2014 at a special culinary event where our team was able to showcase CPG puree products and provide ideas on using the purees in Sodexo kitchens. This innovative Culinary Day was a tremendously positive experience that resulted in Sodexo launching several soups made with CPG purees.

This year Sodexo is building on our partnership by doing in-house product assessments to establish cost saving baselines that we can use to advertise the labor savings and cost effectiveness of our puree format. CPG also recently launched new pulse-based purees (navy bean, chickpeas and lentils). Sodexo immediately stepped forward with a product to utilize these new ingredients.
Aboriginal and minority companies have much to offer Canada’s business community and society generally. Our unique perspectives and experiences offer companies like Sodexo tremendous opportunity to provide innovative new products and solutions to their client organizations.

Far too often, however, we have been overlooked and denied the opportunity to show what we are truly capable of.

Sodexo’s broad commitment to develop Aboriginal and minority suppliers through the creation of a truly inclusive supply chain is showing the way forward for other companies. I would like to extend my personal thanks to the entire Sodexo family. You are all making a difference.

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Jane Dummer, RD (www.janedummer.com), known as the "Pod to Plate" Food Consultant, collaborates with the food and nutrition industry across North America.