Feature

With an Appetite for Quality & Sustainability

With 50 years of history on its shoulders (anniversary coming up in 2023), CCH – Congress Center Hamburg knows a little something about the secret of organizing a successful conference. Quality in service and infrastructure is just as important as flexibility, sustainable solutions, and constant evolution. And, of course, food. The new CCH has partnered up with Käfer, one of the world’s leading catering and food service companies for conventions, tradeshows, and other events of all sizes and types, to offer a more modern sustainable philosophy around culinary and hospitality services in the meetings sector.

Words Vicky Koffa

The Käfer team is no stranger to organizing the catering part of events in Hamburg. Already a partner of exhibition complex Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH since 2018, the company comes into the convention sector with 90 years of expertise in catering services. Its philosophy is client-oriented, meaning that personal attention is given to all details before and during the event by the staff and a contact person on-site so that the client can concentrate on the smooth flow of their event and attend to the delegates. 

Flexibility is a major concern in big conferences, as is tailor-made solutions for every event type. The aim of the CCH partner is clear on this: “We specialize in custom-tailored culinary solutions. Food and beverage concepts should always match the theme of the event or the host company’s main product. Standardized products or menus containing a lot of convenience products will not be served at the new CCH, even at major events where a large number of meals must be provided within a very narrow timeframe,” emphasizes Alexander Walter, CEO Käfer Service Hamburg GmbH.

Following the Flow of the Palate

It has become clear that networking is an important part of any conference, especially when it happens over a snack, lunch, or dinner. This makes the role of quality and variety of the food served significant. As taste evolves and new food trends appear, delegates expect to find in front of them fresh and sustainable products to satisfy all dietary preferences. That is why part of Käfer’s philosophy is to set new standards and offer top quality both in food and in service.

“Innovative and healthy food that meets customers’ expectations has never been more important for the events and conventions sector,” says Heike Mahmoud, Chief Operating Officer of the CCH – Congress Center Hamburg“We are more than pleased to have such a highly experienced caterer on board. Käfer is a company committed to healthy cuisine.”

Recognizing new food trends and taking action to satisfy all palates is key in the business. The number of vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians is increasing rapidly. The same goes for people who just want to eat healthy and are concerned about eco-friendly packaging. For us in trade fair and congress catering, this means that we have to offer a variety of dishes for the different nutritional concepts. In addition, we are a manufacturer and prepare mainly in house. We have reduced the use of convenience products down to a minimum and we work with reusable systems or minimalist and biodegradable disposable packaging,” says Walter.

And he continues: “Together with the chef of our recently opened vegetarian-vegan restaurant Green Beetle in Munich, we have developed a new range of vegetarian and vegan dishes that can be implemented at the fair and of course for congresses in the highest quality as well in large quantities and that enrich our offer in this category.”

©Käfer

Sustainability in its Core 

The team have also made a commitment to become a pioneer in sustainability. Local food and seasonal products are exclusively used, while organic produce can be easily arranged upon request. Small local farms and companies are the main suppliers, which ensures the quality of the products and avoids unnecessary transport and shipping. In the energy field, the team uses 100% green electricity from CCH – Congress Center Hamburg and energy-saving equipment; until 2025 there will also be a complete switch to electric vehicles. 

Clarissa Käfer, CCO, is committed to making the company carbon-neutral by 2025. “It is easier for a family-owned business to enforce environmental protection than for others,” she explains. “Owners of medium-sized enterprises aren’t better people. They simply have a systemic advantage of being able to act quickly and independently,” she said.

And once the event is over? “Food waste is also a very severe topic, as food that has already been processed must be destroyed in accordance with legal hygiene requirements. That’s why we are working with a start-up that uses AI to help us better adapt the food selection to the target group and plan the use of materials even more precisely and thus reduce food waste to a minimum. The still existing food waste will be brought to a biogas plant,” explains Walter.

A Company of Fair Training & Inclusion

On top of environmentally sustainable practices, Käfer pay extra attention to diversity. Their staff is extensively multicultural but with equal opportunities for growth and learning within the company. In fact, the company complies with Germany’s General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG), which aims at promoting diversity and equality. 

In addition, all staff receive superior training. The Käfer Academy is an in-house training and continued professional development department which supports 70 trainees and junior staff members into becoming the next leading generation of the company. Thanks to this, Käfer has been awarded the CSR Jobs Award in the ‘Training’ category. This means fresh innovative ideas will always be on the menu when planning an event at the CCH – Congress Center Hamburg.

More information: www.cch.de/en / info@cch.de

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