Good food procurement

Highlighting the procurement steps taken at the University of Edinburgh for our catering outlets and services.

Sustainability in Catering procurement, Supply and Waste Management

A key aspect of ensuring that cost effective catering services are provided, and as the largest University in Scotland we benefit from the lowest food prices, is a full commitment to Collaborative Procurement with other public sector organisations.

In addition we will look where financially feasible at a range of sustainability actions in our procurement and waste management to include:

  • Reduction in food miles
  • Food seasonality
  • Local Produce with commitment to provenance
  • Meat is Farm Assured to maintain the highest levels of animal welfare, a requirement for our “Food Made Good” award and Food For Life Catering Mark
  • Fairtrade\ethical foods (note: trade-off impact on food miles)
  • Full commitment to recycling including compliance with the Scottish Food Waste regulation introduced in January 2014, so that all food waste is split from mixed recyclables, and general waste/landfill

It should be clearly noted that first and foremost there is commitment to collaborative procurement and food contracts both at a UK and Scotland Level, and only where there is a direct benefit to the institution will it move away from these contracts to support greater initiatives on sustainability and can demonstrate a "Single Source Justification".

Catering procurement and Supply

National contracts  (UK Level - The University Caterers Organisation Ltd)

These are the largest agreements and offer the most competitive prices

  • Alcohol
  • Catering Light & Heavy Equipment
  • Convenies Retial Products and Services
  • Disposables & Kitchen Chemicals
  • Fresh/Frozen Meat and Poultry
  • Gorcery, Frozen and Chilled
  • Catering Innovation and Concept Solutions
  • Hot Beverage
  • Sandwiches and Associated Products
  • Soft Drinks and Associated Products

Scottish contracts  (National level - Advanced Procurement of Universities and Colleges)

APUC as a procurement organisation also have an Environmental policy, Sustainability policy, Supply Chain Sustainability Policy and Code of Conduct!/devsus

  • Meat
  • Fresh Fish & Seafood
  • Bakery
  • Milk/dairy
  • Fruit and Vegetables

The majority of activity currently in reducing food miles and working with local suppliers is on Scottish contracts, but the University has also “come off” contract on certain items in order to increase sustainability/ethical progress

  • On TUCO Ltd National contracts have gone sole supply with a company to supply both Grocery, Frozen and Chilled, Convenience Retail Products and Services, and Disposables and Kitchen Chemicals Contract, so one vehicle used per site for delivery and split in to four sections to thus reduce food miles and carbon footprint. This all is distributed from their depot in Newbridge, Edinburgh.
  • Through dry good contract, all biscuits supplied by Reid of Caithness, Thurso and gluten and vegan options from Nairns, Edinburgh served with all tea and coffee for meetings and events.
  • Fruit and Vegetables supplied by a supplier in Newbridge Edinburgh with majority sourced from the Edinburgh and Glasgow fruit markets with balance in the main from Europe.
  • Milk and Dairy from a supplier in Bridge of Allan and all sourced from dairy herds from Scottish farms.
  • Meat supplied from a supplier based in Linlithgow 90% of all beef is Scottish and breakfast items eg sausages/bacons all Scottish origin
  • Fresh fish and seafood –  supplied from Bonnyrigg and Perthwith fish from Scottish Waters and not on the red list as a key criteria for the Sustainable Restaurant Association Awards
  • Bakery from a Glasgow supplier
  • Rice – all Fairtrade and specific University only contract with all rice fairly traded from Malawi
  • Fairtrade sugar sticks– 173000 consumed over 22/23
  • Coffee & Tea – all supplied from a two Scottish companies who fully roast, grind and distribute in Scotland with all products Fairtrade but with another paying for local community project e.g. planting of fruit orchards working with local community groups.
  • In 2022/23 we served as fair trade hot beverages
    • Tea – 427000 cups, Coffee – 1.7 million cups, Hot Chocolate – 267000 cups
  • Using a local Glasgow company for organic and Fairtrade products including, oats, seeds, muesli bars etc.
  • Fair Trade bananas – 173000 (22/23)

Waste management

Drinking water points are available for staff and students and reusable cups/KeepCups are encouraged in cafes.

From introducing the sustainable and re-useable KeepCup into catering outlets in 2011, over 27,000 have now been sold.  In August 2018 a disposable cup tax was introduced and was increased from 25p to 30p in 2019.  This has seen a 48% decrease in usage of disposable cups.