Dubai-based food and beverage-specific talent solutions business Food People Managing Partners Greg Wright and Luke Truin tell Hotel & Catering News Middle East all about connecting great talent with respected businesses across the region.
Tell us a little bit about what Food People does…
We work as a strategic talent partner in the food and beverage industry, based in Dubai, providing people-centric solutions that enhance teams and businesses globally.
Our approach is to address each business’ unique growth needs by partnering with diverse companies from globally recognised organisations, to local start-ups and SME’s to offer solutions from farm to fork.
What inspired you to start the company?
We’re both food people, brought together by a genuine passion for the F&B industry. We also realised we both had a similar mindset and approach to recruitment. We shared a common goal of bringing a strategic partnership approach to the field and a mutual passion for helping people move through their careers and reach their goals.
Having lived and worked in the region for some time, we’re invested in the local economy and have developed a genuine drive to add value to the F&B industry.
And so, Food People was born! We never intended to compete with large recruitment corporations, but rather to stick to what we know and create a niche business that will support the future of the F&B industry.
How is Food People different from other companies in the field?
We’re actually the only company in the region that specialises in talent solutions specific to the end-to-end supply chain of the food and beverage industry. Therefore, we offer deep knowledge and a broad experience for each and every segment of the value chain, from farm to fork.
This holistic view encourages us to attract talent in a personalised way.
Our approach is unique because we work on the ground, which builds trust and enables us to have an appreciation for market trends. We adopt a consultative approach to collaborate closely with our partners, so we really understand every organisation and individual we work with.
What are some accomplishments that you’re particularly proud of?
We’re proud to host our F&B Leaders Dinner across the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In fact, we recently hosted our fourth one! This event has allowed industry leaders to discuss the opportunities and challenges they face and enabled us to foster a community of innovation and growth.
We’re also very proud of the team and company culture we have cultivated at Food People. We applied our own human-focused approach to growing our business, expanding our team from two to thirteen people in just a year. Our people are well-aligned with our high-performing culture. They are the backbone of our business and we look forward to continuing to build on that foundation.
What challenges have you encountered in the hospitality/F&B industry in the region? How have you addressed these?
There has never been an F&B-specific talent solutions business in the region before. Coupled with the current challenges across the industry, we often face competition from international companies in what has become a price-sensitive market.
Thankfully, our clients understand the value of long-term partnership, appreciating a quality-first approach and choosing not to opt for quick solutions.
In 2019, the UAE and KSA restaurant industry, as a whole, was down by 1%. However, we experienced a rise in job opportunities in both operational and culinary vacancies. We stuck to our approach and were actually able to offer more agile, flexible solutions to businesses in this unpredictable market.
This is our way of overcoming the challenges posed by the current market. For example, we worked with Eathos, who retained our services on a monthly basis to support their expansion across the GCC. We pride ourselves on providing quality time and time again, allowing us to build a strong reputation as well as meaningful, long-term partnerships.
What are some businesses you’d love to partner with in the region?With the evolution of the F&B industry, moving from dine out to delivery, we do feel a need to provide solutions to businesses who are involved in this change.
With the emergence of cloud-kitchens, we’ve realised that it’s necessary to identify talent that can be incorporated into a new segment of the industry. There’s a need to recognise talent that, not only comes from within the F&B industry, but transcends boundaries, coming from digital or AI, for example, to fulfil the gaps in the job market caused by emerging trends.
How do you see your company growing in the future?
Organically – whether it’s our marketing, following, people or clients – the growth of our business so far has been completely organic. We want to continue to place people at the centre of everything we do, because that has been one of our distinguishing factors in the market.
Using our people-centric approach, we hope to grow other pillars within Food People so the industry looks to us to share insight on the F&B industry, outside of just talent solutions.
Growing our business is also about being adaptive and agile. In five to 10 years, we see transforming our business from a regional F&B talent solutions specialist to a global leader in strategic solutions for the industry.
The good news is, this shift is well underway!
How will you make your mark on the F&B industry in the region/globally?
We feel like we’ve already started! When it comes to talent solutions, we’re operating in a reactive market. So, we want to encourage industry leaders to think ahead.
We’re currently involved in academic engagement, partnering with key higher education institutions in the region to identify future leaders for the industry.
Often, young talent navigates towards other industries, outside of food. This is a challenge for our industry not just regionally, but globally. Our aim is to take a collaborative approach to engage industry leaders to attract and retain young, fresh talent.
We want to use our knowledge and experience, together with thought leaders in the industry, to collectively overcome the challenge and show potential talent how rewarding it can be.
Our goal is to shape the future of the F&B industry. For us, it’s not always about what Food People wants, it’s about what the industry needs.