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News (187)

Thursday, 29 June 2017 12:33

TUCO Business Models in HE Catering

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University and college catering facilities have a vital role to play in enhancing this experience. They are much more than just a place to ‘refuel’ and can be vibrant, cultural hubs where students mix with peers and academic staff, and engage with the broader university and college community. But if they want to realise the potential of these spaces, members should create a welcoming environment where catering services and dining/seating arrangements encourage students to use the facilities to meet colleagues, study and work in groups.

And as students become ever more sophisticated consumers of food and beverages, the university catering teams need to understand and keep pace with expectations and high street trends.



To gain greater insight into this important area, TUCO commissioned The Litmus Partnership to research the sector’s various business models for delivering catering, hospitality and retail services. Litmus is one of the UK’s foremost catering consultancies and works with a diverse range of organisations in the education, corporate, healthcare and commercial sectors both in the UK and internationally. It has an excellent track record in helping clients deliver longterm, sustainable change and has carried out numerous benchmarking studies. For this report, 48 members and colleges completed an in-depth, online survey and the results were augmented with visits to 7 member locations, additional telephone research with a further 4 institutions, as well as dialogue with the 4 leading contractors in the sector: Baxterstory, Chartwells, Elior and Sodexo.




Adding to this year's spectacular speaker line up is Linda Moir, who was in charge of the front-line events and customer services at the 2012 London Olympics.

Linda was responsible for planning and implementing a customer service strategy, whereby she organised 15,000 volunteers known as 'Games Makers', private sector contractors and facilities to welcome over nine million spectators.

London 2012 was the first Games to view ticket-holders as customers and as a result, it is widely regarded as the most successful and best-run Olympics in the modern-era. The use of Games Makers was seen as crucial to the success as their approach made attendees feel part of something special.

Linda's previous roles have include Virgin Atlantic's Director of Customer Service and HR Director for the National Air Traffic Services (NATS).
Linda's talk forms one of our Breakout Sessions on Tuesday 26th July. She will be discussing the culture of a customer focused organisation and how change can be implemented to benefit the business and individual employees.

Monday, 26 June 2017 08:40


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When research showed that the use of disposable coffee cups could be reduced by up to 300 million a year, it was TUCO members that helped to find a way to encourage customers to use a reusable alternative, Morag Wilson.

An estimated 2.5bn disposable coffee cups are used in the UK each year which creates around 25,000 tonnes of waste. How many coffee cups are you responsible for sending to landfill through your customers? It's probably a rather terrifying figure and is the reason why coffee roaster Bewley's chose to commission research into the extent of the problem and to find a solution. How can we encourage customers to reduce their use of disposable cups?

Many people would be forgiven for thinking that their disposable cup was recyclable. But when Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall reported in his TV documentary that many of the takeaway cups we use aren't fully recyclable, consumers and the industry were surprised. It just so happens that the programme was aired shortly after the 2016 TUCO Conference.

Louise Whitaker head of marketing at Bewley's saw the programme and, having spoken to TUCO members who shared her concerns, was spurred on to do something about it. Louise recruited four universities to be part of the pilot study: University of South Wales. Cardiff University, the University of Winchester, and Imperial College. They also chose to look at the B&l sector to see if office workers would have different behaviours to university staff and students, so worked with contract caterer Bartlett Mitchell as well (there was no marked difference).

The research was conducted from September to December 2016 and found that financial incentives, reusable alternatives, and clear messaging reminding customers of the environmental impact of single-use coffee cups all had a direct impact on consumer behaviour. The results were notable: a charge on disposable cups. increased the use of reusable coffee cups by 3.4%, environmental messaging in cafés increased the use of reusable coffee cups by 2.3%, the availability of re-usable cup led to an increase of 2.5%, and the distribution of free reusable cups led to a further increase of 4.3%.

The study found that the provision of free reusable alternatives combined with clear environmental messaging and a charge on disposable cups increased the use of reusable cups from 5.1% to 17.4%. Bewley's provided 200 free reusable cups for all study participants at the start of the trial and in February, Winchester gave away a further 3,00 Gum-tec reusable cups - made from recycled chewing gum collected around campus and nationwide during Recycling week. "Our plans for September is that all first years will be given a Gum-tec cup and hopefully they'll keep it and bring it to the coffee bars," says Dave Morton, catering operations manager at the University of Winchester."We think if we can get them from day one we'll get a better uptake on it. If we reach 50%, which I think we could do, that would be fantastic progress.

" The report has now been submitted to a government waste inquiry into paper cups and the research provides a framework for TUCO members and others to make their own decisions - the findings made national news and pret and Paul stores have put reward schemes in place. "at the end of the day it's down to personal choice," says Louise. "But if people keep reusable cups on their desk it does have a positive influence while the industry works to find an alternative to the existing disposable coffee cup."

Thursday, 22 June 2017 13:04


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TUCO members have recently enjoyed the TUCO Seafood Discovery Day, going behind the scenes at Billingsgate Fish Market, reports Hannah Myton-Wright
To chefs, there is nothing more historic than Billingsgate or Smithfield. Both fish and meat markets are a stamp of quality to anything sold there. There’s nothing more exciting than arriving at the fish market before dawn to have first dibs on the day’s catch.
TUCO has so far held two of its Academy Study Tours at Billingsgate Fish Market, giving members a rare chance to go behind the scenes at the UK’s largest inland fish market.
During our tour we learned that all of the fish sold is as seen, there is no prepping allowed beforehand, and there are inspectors on site who have authority over what’s sold and they will pull something straight away if it’s not to standard. We learned about how different varieties of fish suit different markets, for instance, onkfi sh is great for children because it has no bones, and that bluefin tuna is popular in Japan as it has the highest fat content.
More ppresentation from Stefanie Siebels from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The MSC works closely with TUCO to provide a fast track method of gaining certification for TUCO members.
The TUCO Seafood Discovery Day will be back! To find out how to sign up to the next one and for more information about the TUCO Academy, visit tuco.ac.uk/academy or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Wednesday, 21 June 2017 11:15

Going Local

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Local sourcing means more than just ticking an ethical box and TUCO members are showing how buying local can be done, writes Tom Tanner from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
Universities and colleges sit right at the heart of UK towns and cities.
They form part of the core fabric of the community. With thousands of hungry student mouths to feed, they also have a huge amount of power to influence the food landscape that surrounds them with their procurement decisions. With buying budgets running into the millions they can transform an artisan business overnight, as well as feed their customers’ growing appetite for provenance.
Millennial mouths are discerning and generally come closely attached to a brain inspired by the stories inextricably linked to the food they consume. With producers popping up all over the country and a food revolution in full swing, there has never been a better time for university caterers to think local. The benefits of closer working
relationships, a thriving network of local businesses all pulling in the same direction and access to quality fresh seasonal food on your doorstep await.
Darren Procter, who took over as executive head chef at Sheffield Hallam University two years ago, after a number of years in the West Country running his own restaurant and working at Plymouth University, needs no second invitation to root out producers on his doorstep. “For me this is something of a personal thing,” he says. “I mean I’m not judged on how sustainable we are but I take it upon myself to operate as sustainably as we can. 
When you think that the restaurant and hospitality industry accounts for half of the country’s spending on food then we have a huge responsibility.
“It also means we can make a massive impact by shaping food culture with the thousands of students we are feeding on a daily basis. By working closely with local suppliers and communicating that to our customers we are using fresh local ingredients as a means of educating our students.”
Head north of the border and there’s an added incentive to look to the local larder for inspiration.
The Scottish government actively encourages businesses to look at what’s on their doorstep. Ian Macaulay, assistant director (catering) at the University of Edinburgh, explains: “Local food is massive for us and I can use the Procurement Reform Act to discriminate in favour of small Scottish producers, which means we’re investing in the local economy and supporting small producers to grow.”
Ian is adamant that sourcing locally doesn’t need to be more expensive either. In fact he argues the contrary. “It’s often the bigger guys who pull the wool over your eyes when it comes to price.”
Finding suppliers that are reliable, affordable and consistentand who can also provide the volumes university caterers require, are among the top barriers cited for sticking with the safe option of a major wholesaler. But both Ian and Nick Leach, head of catering services at Portsmouth University, would advise any of their counterparts to engage with their wholesalers and challenge them to up the proportion of local produce, they supply.
Nick says: “Call them in, and say to them, tell me where you are sourcing your stuff from – and that you’d like at least 25% to come from local producers. Then you’ll start getting somewhere.”
Ian is even more strident in his view about where the blame lies for there being insufficient local food on campus menus across the country.
“In foodservice our biggest dilemma is getting wholesalers to embrace SMEs more. They are unwilling to take the risk and they overload small producers with bureaucracy. That’s why I am delighted to have the freedom to go directly to them.” And that is exactly what he has done, sourcing an increasing amount from small local producers and suppliers – including all of his milk and coffee and growing quantities of vegetables and meat. Back in Sheffield, Darren now benefits from dairy deliveries from a farm a stone’s throw from the university. Our Cow Molly, on the outskirts of Sheffield, provides all of his milk, as well as ticking sustainability boxes as it is certified as free range.  
Wednesday, 21 June 2017 10:40

McCain champions street food

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Jonathan Taylor, McCain Foods’ Culinary Lead, explains how drawing inspiration from the popularity and operational simplicity of street food can help university caterers to increase custom and compete with the high street.

“To stand out and keep customers coming back you need to be able to keep your menu fresh and exciting, but changing it regularly can make it difficult to maintain profitability and manage your operational requirements.

“The surging popularity of street food offers some simple solutions. We’ve been working with Jon Knight from celebrated street food traders, Original Fry Up Material, to see how putting a street food twist on a menu mainstay such as chips can add menu variety and excitement, increasing new and repeat custom. You don’t even need to make changes to your regular food order.

“Knight uses McCain Original Choice Chips: “We’re all about simple, favourite foods that are made with the best quality ingredients, and that’s what McCain Chips give us - British potato that delivers a perfectly crisp outside and creamy soft potato inside.

“For the toppings, we’re not trying to re-write the rule book, we’ve been focusing on classic favourites, steak and ale, and ham, egg and chips. We then finish it with dressings such as pickled radish to add a hit of colour, flavour and that perfect mix of textures. The feedback has been smashing. Because topped chips are so quick and easy to prepare and serve, they also help you manage the busy periods.”

“If you want to maintain your existing food offer but introduce something different on a short term basis, maybe even on a term by term basis, topped chips offer a great solution.”



E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

T: 0800 146 573 (GB)/1800 409 623 (ROI)

Tuesday, 20 June 2017 14:03

'Hyde & Seek' with Matthew Clark

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Matthew Clark are showcasing their new beers and ciders range with a tasting session at Hyde Park on Wednesday 5th July!

There will be over 200 cold Beers and 60 refreshing Ciders, ready and awaiting you at this summer's must attend event. Click here to register. 

Matthew Clark' Boutique Beers range covers more beer styles and more brewers from right across the world than ever before. With a thirst for new and interesting styles, the beer market has continued to thrive in the UK with amazing home grown beers and a demand for beers from overseas. Statistics tell us that world and speciality beer volumes are up 5.2% in the UK On-Trade. This has been driven by the growing interest in Craft Beer. However you wish to define it, this revolution is here to stay. What better way to discover some great new beers for your bar than enjoying a cold one, along with some delicious bites and live music!

You'll also get to experience our brand new premium cider range, Cider House Collection. Matthew Clark' product experts have once again searched the globe to bring you the best of the UK and beyond for a category that has gone from strength to strength in the last 12 months growing 2.2% in volume with premium cider making up over 30% of the market.

Monday, 19 June 2017 11:18


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The people who make up TUCO have come from all walks of life.

This month, we catch up with David Nuttall, catering manager at Harper Adams University, to learn more about his career experiences...



Coming up to 12 years now. Harper Adams is a fantastic university with a great ‘roll up your sleeves’ attitude from all the staff. It’s a small university, which makes us nimble and able to react quickly to whatever is thrown at us. In particular, the catering team that work tirelessly in a constant drive to deliver the best sustainable service and food we can and I’m sure this has helped us gain first place in ‘student experience’ in the Times Higher Education Survey this year. I’m really proud of all the catering staff here and their ability to strive for excellence in delivery to students and conference guests and again I’m sure the team members helped the university win What the University of the Year twice in a row.


After completing my catering qualifications I travelled the world for six years working in 12 countries until settling into the university sector at the University of Central Lancashire for three years then as an executive head chef
at Bradford University for six years.


I’m really proud of completing a couple of master’s degrees in my spare time while working in this challenging hospitality sector. This has led me to advise the government on food safety issues within our industry.
I’m honoured to be a board member of TUCO and shout about the benefit of in-house caterers. The biggest highlight at Harper was collecting a Catey award on behalf of all my team, which is an amazing achievement for such a small team but great recognition for their hard work.


First and foremost, university catering brought me home to Preston, but I  soon realised the sector had so much more to offer in terms of challenges. The sector does benefit from a better work-life balance compared to restaurants and hotels. Other than spending five years studying in universities and colleges I knew very little about the sector, yet it’s been a thoroughly rewarding 21 years.


At Harper Adams, it’s the people – team members, vibrant young students and diverse conference guests. As a sector, the TUCO family who embrace each other with great ideas, support, and an ongoing drive to raise the bar.

Monday, 19 June 2017 08:42

Pricing Bulletin from 23-May-17 To 19-June-17

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We Will be carrying out two surveys to get your feedback on the level of service you are getting from the supplier(s) that are supplying you as part of the Sandwiches and Vending Supplier Framework Agreement.


Supplier Assessment - Sandwiches Framework 2017

(Closes on Monday 26th June 2017)


Supplier Assessment - Vending Framework 2017

(Closes Wednesday 28th June 2017)



Palmer & Harvey

Fruit & Veg
Fruit & Veg Fruit
Ribble Farm Fare
The Veg Factor

Innovative Food Concepts

Milk & Bread

Chef in a Box



Please note there are amended product files for the below suppliers


Catering Disposables & Kitchen Chemicals

Frozen & Chilled

Hot Beverage

Meat & Poultry
Fresh Pastures

Milk & Bread
Coultons Bread
Fresh Pastures
West Horsley

New promotions

New documents
Alcohol - Updated contract review notes
Catering Light & Heavy Equipment - Contract Review notes
Oliver Kay - Gluten Free products, Crop Report
Arthur David - Produce Report
Birtwistles - Specials, June Market Report, Burger Case Configuration

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 14:22

June 2017 Magazine out now!

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We have travelled to universities in the US on the TUCO Study Tours we are often surprised to discover just how commercial the catering over there has become. Food courts resemble the catering outlets one would fi nd in a shopping centre, with numerous brands all in one place and little in the way of own-brand, in-house concepts. This trend is slowly but surely making its way over here, with some brave TUCO members dipping their toes into this market before anyone else.

Click here to read the full magazine...



Advertising Opportunities: Dan Hillman

t: 0345 500 6008 e: dan@h2opublishing.co.uk

TUCO Magazine Editor: Morag Wilson

t: 01474 520 267 e: morag@h2opublishing.co.uk

Contact Us

The University Caterers Organisation Ltd

3rd Floor, National House

St Ann Street, Manchester

M2 7LE

t: 0161 713 3420 e: info@tuco.ac.uk