ZFV Group: The Valley’s first food service partner on innovation through collaboration
In summer 2023 the ZFV Group joined Valley as its first food service partner. In more than 200 meeting places across Switzerland, it is committed to integrated sustainability in the fields of catering, bakery, hotels, and children’s catering and care. The ZFV team attaches particular importance to partnerships. In keeping with the motto “Together we achieve the change”, they’ve already helped several startups to get off the ground and develop new solutions. As part of the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley, they now want to extend this goal.
In an interview, ZFV innovators Dario Notaro, CBDO, and Christian Gerber, Head of Innovation Management, offered us a look behind the scenes and shared insights into current and upcoming projects.
SFNV: You’re the Valley’s first food service partner. In your opinion, how does the food service sector influence the future of the food system?
Dario: It’s absolutely fundamental. If we consider that some 16% of greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland caused by consumers can be ascribed directly to food, we have an effective lever for improvement – from reshaping our offer and avoiding food waste to our choice of producers. Another important point for us is transparent communication to increase our guests’ awareness of how they eat impacts the environment. Because ultimately we can only achieve the change together.
Christian: Absolutely, food service partners can inspire and enthuse guests to choose climate-friendly dishes and help them to make a positive change. We will achieve this by demonstrating the change to more sustainable thought and action and heightening awareness of it.
SFNV: Our common goal is to bring about improved health for the planet and people through innovative solutions in the fields of food, agriculture and nutrition. How is ZFV Group already involved in these fields, and what is planned for the future?
Dario: Together with startups and fellow Valley partners, we’re developing innovative solutions and banking on partnerships in order to bring about a change together. For example, with FOOD 2050 we ‘re currently implementing an innovative meal plan system in our businesses, which provides guests with information about the global warming potential and the balance of dishes. We’ve also partnered with Steasy, which is developing a simple solution for catering when out and about. And, as the first catering partner, we’re helping the team at Yumame to introduce its vegan products onto the market.
Christian: We love to collaborate with up-and-coming young businesses – it’s exciting. As a practical partner, we can offer businesses our comprehensive know-how and an opportunity to test initial implementations within our businesses, which in turn helps us to bring some pioneering spirit into our own company.
SFNV: Is this collaboration with different innovators also a reason for joining Valley?
Dario: Of course. It’s always really exciting when different partners bring complementary know-how to the table. At ZFV we seek out equal partnerships because we believe that we can only create a future that is fair for people and planet by working together. Through our partnership with SFNV, we want to expand our contribution to reshaping the food system. We regard dialogue and networking with like-minded people as enormously valuable.
SFNV: How would you like to collaborate with and support others in the Swiss ecosystem?
Dario: There is a wide range of opportunities thanks to the diverse areas in which we operate. For us the focus is on co-creation and exchange of knowledge, the joint development of new solutions. As Christian has already mentioned, we also repeatedly support new enterprises and startups and help with market launch and product development.
Christian: By opening up our ecosystem to others, we’d like to accelerate our sustainability efforts, because we can only achieve change together. We aim to provide a practical learning platform for the food tech sector in order to develop new, innovative solutions in partnership.
SFNV: What does a food system that is fit for the future look like to you? What changes are needed?
Dario: A food system that is fit for the future is an integrated system whose ecological, economic and social contexts and effects can be viewed transparently, as a whole. An integrated point of view helps to realise a collaborative solution that applies to various points in the system, which brings us back to equal partnerships and joint development of solutions.
Christian: In order to create a food system fit for the future, we must produce sustainably, reduce food waste, promote a healthy diet and ensure fair conditions for farmers and workers. A comprehensive change requires cooperation between all stakeholders and motivation and willingness to address the complex challenges.
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