New year, new leadership for TUCO

By Mike Haslin, Chief Operating Officer, The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO)

This year has been a busy one for TUCO – nothing new there – but the launch of The Courtauld Commitment, the publication of a comprehensive research study, the development of a new groundbreaking online procurement tool, and the inauguration of a new Chair for the Organisation has ensured that 2016 has kept us on our toes.  

We kicked off the year by becoming one of the founding signatories of The Courtauld Commitment 2025. This is a world-leading 10-year voluntary agreement that brings together the foremost organisations in the foodservice sector to tackle waste levels, greenhouse gas emissions and water intensity. 

Indeed, sustainability was one of the major themes of 2016, underpinning a lot of the discussion in our sector. Our commitment to Courtauld 2025 is a key part of our plans to find innovative ways to tackle the sustainability question.

As we saw through our research released this summer, food waste costs £250m a year in the education sector, which already operates on unbelievably tight margins. Universities across the country are putting strategies in place to address the amount of waste they produce and our experts identified areas of improvement ranging from staff and student education to changing recycling processes. There is no doubt that sustainability will continue to be a hot topic in 2017. Student attitudes to the environment are changing, coupled with impending legislation in other parts of the foodservice sector and a desire by universities to improve their sustainability credentials, this is an industry issue that we will see a lot more of. In September, Matt White took over from Julie Barker as TUCO’s new Chair. Matt is Director of Catering, Hotel & Conference Services at The University of Reading and has been an active member of the TUCO board for many years. In the first few months in his post, he has been furthering TUCO’s Share, Learn, Buy, Grow philosophy and has overseen the development of the next exciting initiative for our organisation which we have just announced – the launch of TUCO Online. This enables our members to procure goods online from registered suppliers. The system allows online ordering, receipting services and payment all in paperless format – futureproofing members’ procurement processes. It eliminates price discrepancies as the system works with suppliers’ systems in real time. This is a significant breakthrough in our sector and is free for our members – we envisage that it will be a game-changer in 2017. 

The next year will see us drive even more value into our TUCO Academy – the first ever sector-specific training academy, to readdress skills shortages and upskill the entire industry. Stay tuned for forthcoming updates. We will also partner with more organisations through TUCO Online and continue to produce sector-leading research. By continuing to work closely with and talk to our members, we will ensure that the university catering sector continues to thrive, innovate and grow. 

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