Five centers managed by the Mediterránea Group in Madrid obtain EcoCook Sustainable Restaurant certification – Sustainable Restaurant level 4 (2020 version).
The Mediterránea Group, with more than 9,000 employees in more than 1,000 centers in Spain and Latin America, is a large family that has kept its original concept of “close and personalized management of its customers”. Since its inception, Mediterránea has been committed to generating a positive impact on the community in which it operates.
1. Could you tell us a few words about yourself and your background?
« I have a degree in veterinary medicine from the Alfonso X El Sabio University, where I also taught pathological anatomy and I have a master’s degree in food safety. Before joining Mediterránea, I held various positions of responsibility, always related to the area of food quality and safety, for other companies in the catering sector.»
2. What changes have you observed over the years in terms of the eating habits of your customers and consumers?
« A lot. We are increasingly aware of what we consume and what we want to consume. Terms such as Km0 or local commerce, years ago we hardly heard them, but now, however, it is the customers themselves who demand that the food you offer has these distinctions. A study carried out by Accenture stated that 60% of those surveyed make their purchases in socially responsible businesses. Therefore, the concern and involvement of diners to know that what they consume meets a series of requirements in its production and distribution. Right now this is one of the most important aspects.»
3. How do you see the integration of sustainability principles into the restaurant industry in the future?
« Everything related to sustainability has evolved beyond being a purely environmental issue, it now encompasses the whole. As a company, we have three clearly defined areas of interest: employees, customers and suppliers. If we do not match the actions of all three, the strategy will not meet the demands of our target audience.
Our employees and suppliers are another very important part for us. Working with suppliers has become very important and their role in the company is fundamental. We are a service company, so we are constantly creating synergies with customers.
We want our activity to have a positive impact on society, trying to consolidate all these initiatives, giving them continuity and committing to a long-term plan to be more responsible.»
4. Why did you choose EcoCook Sustainable Restaurant certification?
« On the one hand, the requirements of the distinction were in line with the company’s requirements in terms of sustainability and the environment. On the other hand, collaborating with a renowned sustainability certification is always a great satisfaction, and an incentive to continue to maintain their confidence in the way we work and manage our canteens.»
5. During the certification process, were there any challenges you faced and how were they handled?
« EcoCook is a rigorous certification system that evaluates more than 200 sustainability criteria in seven levels. Fortunately, as far as our business is concerned, at Mediterránea we carry in our DNA the basic principles for obtaining certification. Unlike other companies in the sector, Mediterránea does not work with a central purchasing department, so our commitment to local, zero-kilometer and seasonal products is part of our way of understanding food.
Perhaps what has been more complex for us is the effort to reduce product references in order to comply with certification. With an offer as varied as ours, it is not easy to eliminate references without sacrificing variety, but our habit of adapting quickly to customer demand has helped us to achieve this.»
6. What has changed before and after the implementation of the EcoCook program and what have these changes brought to your foodservice?
« Sustainability initiatives do not show results that can be seen from one day to the other. They are long term, as a comparison has to be made between the actions that were done before and how they have to be executed now. The recovery of rainwater or the analysis of energy consumption indicators are measures that we will be able to evaluate over a period of time of, for example, one year. I am sure they will show very positive results.
What we can assure you is that we are very excited and very involved with this challenge ahead of us.»
7. How do you think your customers will perceive the fact that your catering services are certified EcoCook Sustainable Restaurant?
« Some time ago, customers may not have understood why it is important for fruits and vegetables to be in season or the relevance of reusable materials. However, they are now an asset to drive these types of projects. The moment we are living in is very positive for these initiatives because both companies and users have agreed on one thing, and that is that we have to take measures to improve our surroundings and to take care of the environment.
Therefore, I believe that when they know that thanks to the distinction that EcoCook has given us, they will feel that they are part of a project that cares about sustainability, and consequently they will want to take an interest and see how they can do something themselves.»
8. What are the next objectives?
« The ability of companies to adapt to new regulations is both a challenge and an opportunity. As a foodservice company, we have to comply with legislation being passed by the government, such as the impending law on waste. This is a logistical challenge for businesses that have to comply with all the requirements, so betting in advance on this type of measures, as Mediterránea did, prepares companies to be able to face the adaptation of the measures with a better disposition.»