Richard Cousins, the CEO of Com­pass Group, the world’s largest food ser­vice com­pany, believes in the eco­nomic power of outsourcing.

If the con­tract food ser­vice industry pro­duces great food and out­standing ser­vice at a lower cost than in-​​house providers, then we should see excel­lent growth,” he explained. “It’s as simple as that.”

Cousins addressed more than 100 fellow CEOs and senior exec­u­tives at North­eastern University’s first inter­na­tional CEO Break­fast Forum last Friday in Strand, London. Since its incep­tion in the early 1990s, the forum has fea­tured top speakers including Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America; Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE; and Steve Forbes, CEO of Forbes Media.

Over the course of the hour­long event, Cousins out­lined his company’s plan for global expan­sion in a pre­sen­ta­tion titled, “The World in 2025: Shifts in Atti­tudes and Eco­nomic Power.”

Com­pass cur­rently employs more than 470,000 people and serves more than 4 bil­lion meals per year to some 30 mil­lion con­sumers in approx­i­mately 50 coun­tries. The com­pany, which has rev­enues of $25 bil­lion and a market cap of $20 bil­lion, oper­ates in offices and fac­to­ries; schools and uni­ver­si­ties; hos­pi­tals and senior living com­mu­ni­ties; major sports and cul­tural venues; and remote mining camps and off­shore platforms.

The food ser­vice giant’s biggest client in higher edu­ca­tion is North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, with whom it has part­nered with since 1973. In August, the uni­ver­sity was named to the Princeton Review’s “Green Honor Roll” in part because of its com­mit­ment to sus­tain­able food practices.

North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun praised the part­ner­ship in his intro­duc­tory remarks. “We are very happy with the product and what you do for us,” Aoun told Cousins, whom he char­ac­ter­ized as a dili­gent busi­ness leader focused on “man­aging his com­pany and moving it for­ward.” “Part of what makes us sus­tain­able is the fact that our food ser­vices are local and organic.”

Cousins, for his part, praised Northeastern’s sig­na­ture model of global expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion. “Like Com­pass, North­eastern has grown into a global orga­ni­za­tion and rec­og­nizes the impor­tance of having an inter­na­tional pres­ence and investing in growth,” he said. “Its approach to edu­cating stu­dents in the out­side world is a tes­ta­ment to the university’s forward-​​thinking attitude.”

In his pre­sen­ta­tion, Cousins noted that growth in the food ser­vice sector would increase in par­allel with the rise of emerging mar­kets in China, India and Brazil, coun­tries in which Com­pass rev­enues are steadily climbing by up to 30 per­cent each year. “Put all these num­bers together and the whole bal­ance of Com­pass will shift quite rad­i­cally over the next five years,” he explained.

Cousins sees another huge busi­ness oppor­tu­nity in coun­tries such as Italy, France and Ger­many. According to his keen busi­ness savvy, these coun­tries could save up to $15 bil­lion a year by out­sourcing food ser­vices in health care facilities.

The future is uncer­tain and the eco­nomic out­look in some coun­tries is tough,” Cousins said. “But one reason why I am opti­mistic is that nearly 90 per­cent of our busi­ness is inter­na­tional, which gives us a remark­ably robust model.”