With public sector spending on food and catering services over £2b per year and £0.6b spent on imported produce, Catey Award winner Julie Barker, chair of the University Caterers Organisation (TUCO), outlines how caterers should think local when it comes to cost-effective buying
T here is an abundance of opportunities for better buying, flexibility and savings when it comes to catering procurement. In a competitive world, students see university catering as inclusive within a collective offering alongside facilities, infrastructure and academic standards. Pressure is therefore placed on caterers to be the best, to encourage students to stay on campus, and to be recognised for excellent cuisine by students, staff, visitors, conference delegates and guests.
Students sit at the heart of any new trend, food included. Keeping up to date with the latest news on what is getting taste buds talking across the country can aid in keeping students on campus, which can often be a mission in itself. Flexible purchasing frameworks allow caterers to access products that they need to be able to deliver on the menu - and if necessary without further commitment - reducing the risk aspect of purchasing the newest food craze.
To ensure procurement process efficiency and compliance, full audits and supply chain assessments are needed, which can take up manpower that isn't necessarily available. Facilities and catering teams might put off reviewing contracts or price negotiations, which can lead to a stagnation of the system where no one is getting the best deal. By choosing a framework which proactively manages contracts, such as TUCO's, caterers don't have to constantly check that they are getting the best deals and meeting compliance targets, which can free up all-important time.
As an education sector caterer, increasing corporate social responsibility is key. Choosing a framework which aids smaller, local British producers not only boosts UK farming and food manufacturing while supporting local markets, but it also helps caterers to create unmatched sustainability policies.
TUCO offers flexible and transparent access to all organisations that use our frameworks, and thereby has helped partners collectively to save a whopping £11.4m using cost-effective supply frameworks and procurement budgets.
It is not-for-profit, making it unique. We share our unrivalled knowledge of better buying by reinvesting in members via training and skills development programmes. And as 50% of our suppliers are smaller, local producers and companies, we are levelling the playing field, reducing the spending on imported produce per year and helping members develop their sustainability credentials.
For more information visit www.tuco.org
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