Nordic as a competitive advantage

December 2, 2010 11:50

The canteen of the Nordic Council of Ministers in Copenhagen serves simple, home made food based on Nordic raw ingredients. This is a deliberate choice, because Nordic raw ingredients are seen as an important competitive advantage, reports with reference to Nofima.

"The canteen market in Scandinavia is currently dominated by Eurest and ISS. To break through in competition with those, you have to offer something extra. Against that background, it is interesting to look at what we have achieved by focusing on Nordic raw ingredients," says Troels Mølgaard, managing director of Substans, which runs the staff restaurant at the Nordic Council of Ministers, among other operations.

The canteen as a source of inspiration

In job satisfaction surveys, the canteen almost always emerges as one of the most important factors. It is also a fact that the right diet contributes not only to wellbeing, but also in many ways to better health and concentration.

Not only do Nordic raw ingredients have positive health benefits, but the Nordic cuisine has become trendy. It is gaining ever more attention internationally for its new, pure, simple contribution to the world's gastronomy.

"It is important for employers to take this seriously. For us at Nofima, our canteen is also a shop window to our guests. By putting into action what we learn from research, we want to show that we take our own knowledge and our own employees seriously. I often say that we must begin with ourselves before we have the right to moralise to others, and diet as a preventive factor in future health problems is important," says Einar Risvik, research director of Nofima Mat and chair of the working group at New Nordic Food.

Our daily bread

"One of the great advantages of being relatively small is that we can put more of our soul into what we do and it is easier to make real home made food when you have Nordic raw ingredients in focus. Then think about how you present the food," says Molgaard.

Telling the history of food has become a well known concept in agritourism and the restaurant world. It increases the perceived value of the meal and can be carried over to home made food in the canteen.

"It is also entirely possible to put your mark onto products that on the face of it are quite anonymous. Bread gives a particularly important signal, because everyone eats bread every day and good bread is much appreciated," Molgaard continues.

The simplest way is often the best

The expectations of those at the workshop are quite similar.

"We are seeking inspiration to use more local, Nordic raw ingredients in simple, tasty home made dishes," says Hege Sætra, chair of Kantinegruppen Norge and manager of Nets Kantiner.

"I was inspired by Troels Mølgaard's ideas about putting your soul into making simple food, that it is better to put your soul into something a bit special than to present many different varieties. This is in line with my own experience, and it is vital to build on when selling our canteen concept," says Erland Ødegården, a member of Kantinegruppen Norge and managing director of Mat & Personalpartner, which runs seven canteens.

The simplest way is often the best, but it is also important to introduce a little variety, because people tire of eating the same thing. One possible solution from Troels Mølgaard was to have a soup day, but to offer four or five different accompaniments with the soup.

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