By Matthew White, chair of The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) and the director of campus commerce at the University of Reading
We are in for a busy year, if 2019 is anything to go by. Last year saw TUCO host two very successful conferences, release its invaluable ‘Intelligence’ food and drinks reports, expand its procurement services and grow its Academy’s learning programme. These are just a few examples of the exceptional work we have been carrying out not only to deliver real value for our members, but to provide a strong industry voice as the leading professional membership body for in-house public sector caterers.
Moving forward, we will continue to build on our key philosophies of ‘share, learn, buy and grow’ and ensure best practice for our members, starting with our events.
Entries are now open for our TUCO competitions. Returning to the University of Warwick on April 7th and 8th, this year’s competitions have been developed to feature three new challenges which we are confident will be a big hit with the industry.
Following on, our TUCO conference, themed ‘Breaking the Mould’, takes place in July (27–29). The event will also provide the perfect platform to announce the appointment of Phil Rees-Jones as new chair of TUCO. Phil will be coming on board with over 24 years’ experience in the catering, hospitality and retail sector. We look forward to welcoming him to the team.
We will once again be releasing our must-read Global Food and Drink reports, which ensure members stay one step ahead when it comes to the latest industry trends.
Talking of future trends, while vegan, plant-based foods and sustainable consuming remain a key focus, we are also seeing a larger prominence role given to university caterers to help support student wellbeing and mental health. No longer are we asked to just ‘deliver food’, but our staff are increasingly required to be part of student pastoral care. One of the challenges for us, as an industry, is how we improve on the range of skills required to deliver this role. Some universities have already tapped into this trend by extending their facilities and offering excellent sporting, accommodation and dining facilities. This is encouraging to see.
So, all in all, an eventful first-half of the year. For more information on our plans for the latter half, we welcome you to visit our website. But for now, I look forward to seeing what we, as an industry, can achieve now and in the future.
As always, we will keep our members up to speed with the latest market data and trends shaping our sector via our reports and website at: www.tuco.ac.uk