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While the effects of the pandemic are starting to wane, the aftershocks are still being felt by consumers – and more acutely by anyone closely involved with supply chains.

Mitigating risk

Agility is the key skill in demand at procurement specialists Pelican, where clients continue to face the challenge of upended deliveries and stock shortages. Robert Cormack, general manager Catering Central Services, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, explains: 

“Following on from the pressures of the pandemic and the Government relaxing the lockdown rules, we could finally adjust to the hope of returning to business as usual. However, Pelican made us aware of the industry challenges surrounding food distribution and driver shortages. This was a significant concern for the Trust as the impact presented a risk to patient, visitor and staff dining.” 

Proactive procurement support

Nicola Davidson, client procurement lead at Pelican Procurement Services, says that procurement right now is much more than simply monitoring supply contracts and service level agreements.

“We are facing daily situations where regular supply items cannot be delivered in the required quantities – if at all. For those who have planned menus, this can be a real issue. And we are also seeing costs move far more than we might expect from more normal seasonal swings.”

Robert Cormack continues: “The team at Pelican were very proactive in addressing the challenges and had already started contingency planning and identifying the products which were critical for our menus. Pelican facilitated supplier meetings which enabled us to collaborate and make changes that would support our suppliers and ultimately protect our incoming deliveries. Additional suppliers were listed to provide flexibility and high-risk products were listed with numerous suppliers to ensure order fulfilment.

The support Pelican provides is invaluable to my catering teams, allowing them the time to focus on delivering the best quality food for our patients, staff and visitors.”

Keeping up with a changing landscape

Some of the tasks the Pelican team will complete in a typical week, supporting clients include: 

• Weekly service call with suppliers to review challenges, resolution plans and preventative steps taken

• Sourcing additional supply routes for high-risk products, long term out of stocks

• Facilitating deep cleans in catering kitchens, in a bid to help prevent and avoid staff sickness which adds to the operational challenges

• Identifying business-critical lines and planning contingency plans around these products

• Weekly stock forecasting supporting both client and supplier

• Facilitate weekly calls with key stakeholders to identify potential risks, discuss progress on short and long term strategies for resolution

• Consolidate delivery days and locations where possible as a short term measure

• Listing additional suppliers to support contingency plans

• Forward planning of events and forecasting stock to prevent shortages

• Reviewing the efficiency of incoming deliveries

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