TUCO winter conference highlights

Delegates discuss palm oil, Brexit and student wellbeing at the 4th annual event

Mike Haslin, TUCO CEO, addresses the conference

The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) held its fourth annual Winter Conference at the prestigious Riddel Hall in Queen’s University, Belfast. Based on the theme ‘Forks in the Road’, a variety of influential speakers discussed the impact Brexit will have on foodservice and the hospitality industry.

Speakers included Professor Chris Elliot, Lord Wood of Anfield, Dr Paul Smeets, Donald Sloan and a panel of speakers including TUCO chair Matthew White, Michele Shirlow, Howard Hastings and Dr. Katy Hayward.

The conference was opened by Mike Haslin, TUCO CEO, where he presented over 100 delegates with an overview of TUCO’s services launched in the last 12 months. Mike also shared some of TUCO’s plans for 2019, including the Palm Oil Awareness day in February 2019 and the introduction of additional digital services that will complement TUCO’s Purchase to Pay system, by linking up TUCO’s e-procurement with central billing and then through to members’ EPOS systems.

Identifying high risk areas

Mike Haslin commented: “We are delighted with the success of this year’s TUCO Winter Conference. We have been working closely with other similar organisations to identify the potential high-risk areas Brexit will have an impact on. We will continue to work with our providers to understand the impact Brexit will have, particularly around labour regulations and throughout the supply chain.

“I am confident that our conference has given attendees a better outlook on the potential impact of Brexit and are reassured TUCO are here to support them throughout the transition.”

During Lord Wood of Anfield’s presentation he discussed the potential impact of Brexit on higher education, including on the supply chain. He highlighted the possibility of a short-term stock market and sterling bounce. Additionally, EU temporary/agency workers could be severely restricted, which could make a big impact in food and drink, warehousing and the hospitality sector.

In preparation for this, TUCO are working closely with the regional purchasing consortia, have completed a risk assessment of TUCO agreements, and have written to providers of high-risk services and commodities. TUCO encourage their members and any businesses in the catering and hospitality sector to remain vigilant. Their research (available at www.tuco.ac.uk/grow/tuco-research), such as the quarterly TUCO Intelligence reports, provide excellent updates of market and industry news, feature insight into the latest budget announcement as well as sustainability updates, to support businesses.

Later in the day, Professor Chris Elliot discussed how food integrity is more important than food security. He predicts the next world war will not be about oil but water and highlighted the importance of teaching children food safety.

Dr Paul Smeets’ presentation focused on eating behaviour. Of particular note is that through MRI scanning, he found interesting results on what foods stimulate brain activity. The testing found, “considering healthiness can promote healthier choices in both children and adults but is accompanied by an opposing pattern of brain activation”.

Last of the individual speakers was Donald Sloan. Sloan has worked closely with TUCO on its newly launched research, Hospitable Campus – Foodservice management and student wellbeing. During his presentation, he discussed the purpose of the commissioned research and the significant influence on-campus hospitality has on student wellbeing.

Hospitable Campus – Foodservice management and student wellbeing is available at www.tuco.ac.uk/grow/tuco-research