Nutrition has a direct influence on human health and well-being – and also on the ecological balance, animal farming, the cultural landscape, and many other areas. With a global population of around eight billion, even tiny changes in societal eating habits can have a tangible knock-on effect on these factors. The route taken by foodstuffs from production to consumption therefore presents strong potential in terms of influencing sustainability.
"From day to day, my team and I aim to offer the ElringKlinger workforce menus that are tasty, healthy, and environmentally friendly too!"
At ElringKlinger’s main site in Dettingen/Erms, KOCHWERK Catering GmbH (Kochwerk for short) – a wholly-owned subsidiary of ElringKlinger AG and operator of the company canteen – is committed to promoting sustainability through its daily menus. Delicious, fresh, healthy, affordable, regional, seasonal, organic … these are the key criteria for the team led by head chef Stefan Thumsch.
ElringKlinger has already implemented a whole range of measures. For example, all ingredients in meals served in the canteen must be sourced from the region, while production must conform to high quality standards. Kochwerk is constantly working to raise the proportion of bio-regional foods while taking smaller producers into consideration. In the ElringKlinger kitchen, free-range turkeys are procured from the nearby Lenningen Valley while male chickens come from a company that also breeds cockerels. “While consciously supporting outstanding suppliers in the region, we aim to bring inclusively managed businesses into the picture,” says Stefan Thumsch. With this in mind, ElringKlinger employees eat potatoes grown in the fields opposite the company premises with the involvement of people with disabilities. Kochwerk took advantage of the neighborly relations to make a sociable gesture: the inclusive team working for the vegetable grower was invited for a meal together – a valuable chance for the disabled staff to see what happens to their products on a visit to an industrial business.
The daily lunch selection generally includes a wide array of salad choices alongside raw fruit and vegetables, soups, and vegetarian dishes. “It is important that ElringKlinger staff find it easy to enjoy tasty and healthy food,” says Stefan Thumsch. Employee satisfaction is apparent from high levels of acceptance, with nearly a thousand meals a day provided at peak times. To ensure high quality across this whole range of meals – bearing in mind that Kochwerk also supplies outside clients – ElringKlinger invested in an efficient kitchen, with state-of-the-art equipment installed in 2020. Also important is the harmonious ambience of the modern dining rooms, which plays a part in the well-being of employees.
The takeaway lunch choices are served in environmentally sound, reusable bowls. All packaging is sustainable and made from recycled (or recyclable) materials. Instead of reusable cups, employees can bring their own cups to the coffee machines. In addition, Kochwerk arranges cooking events and sales counters to draw attention to organic, regional produce such as camelina oil, millet, and dinkel wheat.
In 2022, KOCHWERK Catering GmbH, the ElringKlinger Group company that runs canteens at several of the company’s sites, received the “Schmeck den Süden” (“Savor the South”) seal of approval. The award from the Ministry of Food, Rural Affairs, and Consumer Protection for the state of Baden-Württemberg is conferred on businesses that use sustainable, regional ingredients in the meals they serve in line with the state’s organic certification program. This quality mark guarantees compliance with increasingly stringent environmental requirements in crop production and animal farming at all stages of production and processing.