Inside Foodbuy with Catherine Glynn – A collaboration with the colleges of Oxford University

Foodbuy has been delivering procurement services and an eProcurement system to the colleges of the University of Oxford since 2009, supporting 27 colleges and a number of related establishments. We spoke with Catherine Glynn, our Account Executive to talk about how we've been collaborating with the colleges of Oxford University to provide complete control of their procurement journey!

1. Tell us about your role

“Well, I am the Account Executive to Foodquad and have been managing Foodquad for the last six years! Combining spend to drive cost savings whilst also establishing shared policies, Foodquad is the catering purchasing group that enables the Oxford University colleges to benefit from their joint procurement.

When it comes to their purchasing of food, being of a similar nature and the high importance of ensuring that their products are sourced ethically, sustainably and safely, a number of the colleges joined together to form Foodquad.

Each college is an independent entity in name, tradition and size, each one making their own decisions and manging their own finances.

My core responsibility is to act as their main contact day-to-day, to ensure that their pricing is managed, supporting them with training and the implementation of Epsys.

I also manage the introduction of suppliers and visiting supplier sites with our clients so that they can develop relationships and learn more about where their food comes from.

2. Tell us about Epsys, how has it benefitted your clients?

“Wow, what a question!

There are multiple benefits that come with the integration of our eProcurement system, Epsys, providing Foodquad members with full sight of:

  • All their live products and prices
  • Placing orders and creating recipes
  • Calculating costs
  • Managing stock
  • Reporting on allergens and nutritional content
  • Electronically processing invoices through to payment

With each college having the ability to set up various order points, Epsys gives them a birds-eye view of their procurement across their estate.

The recipe module is a huge asset in helping members to manage cost and calculate allergens in their menus, which is essential with Natasha’s law coming into force.”

3. How are universities adjusting their catering services for the return of students?

“As you can imagine, COVID-19 and social distancing measures have seen catering in universities transform, with takeaway meals and menus and marquee structures at the forefront. As the colleges are used to arranging an array of services from student buffets to high table formal dinners, we have worked in collaboration with our Foodquad sites to ensure that although the dynamic of service may have changed, great tasting and nutritious food remains at the crux of student the experience.”

4. How are we supporting our clients with Natasha’s Law?

“From October 2021, Natasha’s Law will come into force, protecting allergy sufferers and giving them confidence in the food that they buy. At Foodbuy, we have a project underway to ensure that our suppliers are providing allergen labelling information in Epsys for foods that are pre-packed for direct sale. This project has been well-received with the chefs at the colleges, seeing some chefs who didn’t use Epsys before, now using the system because of this. It really has become a truly valuable asset for, not only Oxford University, but the other Universities we work with across the UK.

5. What will dining look like in universities in the post-Covid world?

“As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, The University of Oxford is a unique and historic institution. As soon as they can operate as normal, we will see the return of tradition as formal dinners and other events are reinstated.

However, with that being said, like other businesses, the colleges have learnt to adapt during the pandemic - having never served ready meals prior to Covid-19, they now have a variety of options up their sleeves! Foodquad have shown that as a collective, they are versatile and able to accept and work with change. To see how a food offering can change, even amongst the oldest of traditions has been impressive!”

It’s never too late to transform your university’s foodservice. Supporting universities across the UK, we can also support you to welcome back your students, providing them with sustainable and nutritious food and a seamless procurement operation!

To find out more about a partnership with Foodbuy, contact us here.