Hospital kitchen major supplier faces doubt

A major supplier to the Dunedin Hospital kitchen faces uncertainty, but hopes to become a supplier for the Compass Group and avoid job losses.

Kaan's Catering Supplies provides fruit, vegetables and some other goods to Dunedin Hospital's kitchen.

A large proportion of the vegetables are also prepared by Kaan's. Managing director Lindsay Kaan, of Dunedin, said he was trying to find out what was happening following the decision to outsource the service to the Compass Group.

''Right at this very moment, honestly I've got no idea.

''What I'm hoping is Compass will bring us in as one of their suppliers and we won't have any [job losses].

''I've been trying to talk to the hospital, trying to talk to Compass about everything, but nobody knows anything yet.''

On Tuesday he contacted Compass and was told to email the company with a request to become a supplier.

A health board staff member he spoke to this week did not know what food Compass was trucking in, what it was sourcing locally or when it was taking over.

Kaan's was the last catering firm of its type left in Dunedin. It had been unsuccessful in securing work at Compass' existing Dunedin operations, such as Forsyth Barr Stadium, as the company ''didn't want to know'' the Dunedin-based firm.

''They were only interested in national suppliers.''

Mr Kaan hoped the health board contract was different, because Compass had said it would consider local suppliers. If the company could also then get work supplying other Compass sites in Dunedin, it could be in a position to hire extra staff.

Mr Kaan was disappointed by the decision to approve a 15-year deal with Compass, and would have preferred the service to stay in-house.

''It's another thing that we're losing. Dunedin is losing again.

''It kept jobs in Dunedin. We work quite a lot with the staff down in the hospital and they actually took a lot of pride in their jobs. They weren't just doing meals, they had a lot of pride in it,'' Mr Kaan said.

Another affected business is Campbell's Butchery, of Oamaru, which will lose a significant contract for red and cooked meats.

Owner Tony Campbell said the firm had been preparing for the move, and was confident of avoiding job losses.

''We had a very good relationship with Dunedin Hospital; it's just disappointing.

''It's not the end of the world ... We've picked up a lot of other contracts since we caught wind that this could have been happening.''

In response to queries, Compass Group issued a statement yesterday saying its selection process for suppliers was similar to that of most companies.

''A request for provision of a particular product or service is issued and those who believe they can meet those requirements of provision can submit a proposal. ''This is not unique to the healthcare or food services sector.

''Suppliers who partner with Compass Group are selected not only on price but also their ability to meet our Compass Group vendor quality assurance protocols, which encompass a number of quality requirements including food safety, quality and nutritional outcomes,'' the statement said.

Compass Group worked with national and regional suppliers, the statement said.

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