Sodexo Ireland: Improving the sustainability of our supply chain




Company Description:

Sodexo develops, manages and delivers a diverse range of services, designed to improve the quality of life for our clients and customers – from food services to construction management and from reception to asset maintenance for our clients in offices, schools, prisons, hospitals, military bases, remote sites and hospitality events. In Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, 1,800 employees operate on 180 sites.


Business Issue:

In 2008, the food price inflation impacted on Sodexo’s cost base significantly.  In 2009, Sodexo launched the Better Tomorrow Plan, its sustainability strategy to 2020, which includes commitments to source produce locally and reduce carbon emissions.  Sodexo Ireland started the initiative in 2009 in a bid to mitigate administrative costs and improve on procurement and environmental sustainability.


Solution Applied:

Sodexo Ireland’s Buying Manager analysed all aspects of deliveries to Sodexo’s catering services on the island of Ireland to identify opportunities for improvement:


  • Number of deliveries for the top 15 suppliers – 75% of total spend
  • Carbon emissions for the top 4 suppliers – 56% of total spend
  • Delivery drop size at every unit
  • Product shelf life
  • Trials on fresh produce’s reaction to different delivery types and impact on produce quality (e.g. fresh bread).


The Buying Manager established open discussion with operations teams to involve them in the initiative from the beginning.  All were informed of the process, goals and expected impacts on the units. Core suppliers were also engaged with to seek their commitment to work better together. The following steps have since been taken:

  • Supplier rationalisation by consolidating deliveries through a few core suppliers
  • Switching from two temperature (chilled, ambient) trucks to triple temperature (chilled, ambient, frozen) trucks, to remove frozen products trucks from roads
  • Increasing drop sizes at units.


Company Benefits:

Through open dialogue with operations teams and suppliers, Sodexo Ireland has reduced its catering supplies delivery miles by 72%, CO2 emissions by 82% and number of deliveries by 90% from June 2009 to April 2013.


This initiative supports Sodexo’s sustainability strategy to 2020, the Better Tomorrow Plan. The 2009 roadmap focuses on the issues that are material to Sodexo’s business identified through extensive, continued consultation with stakeholders and based on commitments, objectives and targets to 2020. The five priority areas for action include commitments as a responsible employer; promoting nutrition, health and wellbeing; supporting local community development; developing sustainable supply chains and improving environmental management.



Stakeholder Benefits:

  • Suppliers reduced the number of deliveries and miles travelled, improving their efficiency and reducing their carbon footprint.
  • The units dramatically reduced the administrative and logistics burden of managing numerous deliveries on sites and invoice payments.
  • The Buying Manager and his team strengthened relationships with suppliers and operations teams and consolidated a tighter delivery system that is easier to manage.



The key to making this a success was to establish clear communication.  Changing the structure of deliveries means changing habits of both suppliers and receiving units.


The Buying Manager engaged with all unit managers to explain what we were trying to achieve, what it would mean in practice, what was expected from them and what they would gain in the process.  Suppliers were engaged with to better understand their delivery routes, fleet and logistics and the initiative was positioned as a win-win exercise where suppliers could save significant amounts of money and time.



  1. Communicate well to get everyone on board
  2. Be clear on objectives and expectations
  3. Focus on efficient gains in terms of time, finance, logistics.



Solution Champion:

Ken O’ Riordan, Buying Manager,