The Belazu Foundation has teamed up with School Food Matters on a joint project called Fresh Enterprise, helping shed light on the breadth of possible career opportunities in the food industry.
School Food Matters campaigns for fresh sustainable food in schools and promotes food education through cooking, growing and visits to food producers. As part of that, here at Belazu are sponsoring 10 schools to take part in activities with suppliers and growers.
On March 16th, Year 10 pupils from our nearest school, Cardinal Wiseman in Greenford, joined us for a morning. The aim of the visit was to help pupils understand the wide range of skilled people that we need, in order to take raw ingredients and turn them into products you can buy in a supermarket or eat in a restaurant.
To best illustrate this we followed the journey of the latest of our signature pastes, Zhoug, from field to fork. Zhoug is made from quality fresh ingredients: coriander, cloves, garlic, parsley and chilli.
First stop on the tour was our High Care production facility, where pupils saw Zhoug mixed and then put into jars on the jarring line.
Operations Director Derek and Production Manager Pierrick talked the pupils through the process, explaining the vital roles of detailed production planning and a team of mechanical engineers in keeping Belazu running optimally.
Next up was the warehouse, where the pupils picked some online orders and prepared them for despatch. As they did so, Assistant Operations Manager Amy and Warehouse Manager Blerim taught the pupils about our traceability reporting systems. It is crucial to track each batch of inputs (ingredients, packaging etc.) right the way through the process of becoming a product and being delivered to a customer.
Such transparency is essential for a modern food business, and that need provides many career opportunities. For example, our Technical Director Ainhoa has a scientific background. She oversees all aspects of Quality Assurance, including food safety and legal requirements. This includes testing all of our raw materials as they arrive into Belazu HQ, checking for authentic provenance and ensuring our ingredients are of the finest quality.
The final stop on the tour was our innovation space, The Pembury Kitchen.
Here, the pupils met Ross Watson, who initially joined us as production temp and has risen through the ranks to become Assistant Manager of Production, a senior role with significant responsibility. He talked through his role, and how it has changed as he’s risen through the ranks.
Co-founder and Managing Director Adam took the pupils through the history of the Belazu Ingredient Company, how it has grown from importing small amounts of olives to being a trusted supplier to thousands of restaurants – and top supermarkets – with hundreds of products in the range and a relentless drive for further innovation.
Suitably inspired, the pupils were given a package of Belazu ingredients to take away and begin to experiment in the kitchen – ready for the next phase. In April, the pupils will work on projects that mirror the innovation and marketing process of a Belazu paste, giving them the chance to get hands-on with the food and thinking creatively.
Eleven Belazu team members contributed their time and insight to the project. Everyone enjoyed helping introduce the next generation to an industry full of opportunity – it’s going to be interesting following their journey through Fresh Enterprise.