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With England’s public sector spending in excess of £2 billion on catering services every year, there are many contract opportunities for catering providers to get a piece of the pie. Catering contracts are regularly procured for educational, health and other establishments.

The provision of catering services in schools, academies trust, hospitals and other public sector establishments has predominantly been driven by price, leading to the image of institutional food as low cost, low taste and low nutrition.

Campaigns such as Jamie Oliver’s Feed Me Better, which notoriously campaigned against Turkey Twizzlers, have been successful in highlighting the need for school meals to serve nutritious, nourishing food.

The government has responded: its 2014 Plan for Public Procurement of food aimed to shift the emphasis from cost saving to investing in healthy, tasty food, sourced from local producers; the Childhood Obesity Plan acknowledged that public sector catering should provide healthy options and encourage users to make healthy choices.

Common issues in providing catering services

Suppliers providing food and catering services to the public sector are required or encouraged to adhere to various guidelines, such as School Food Standards, intended to ensure food is nutritious:

  • One or more portions of vegetables or salad as an accompaniment every day
  • At least three different fruits, and three different vegetables each week
  • An emphasis on wholegrain foods in place of refined carbohydrates
  • An emphasis on making water the drink of choice
  • Limiting fruit juice portions to 150ml
  • Restricting the amount of added sugars or honey in other drinks to five percent
  • No more than two portions a week of food that has been deep-fried, batter-coated or breadcrumb-coated.
  • No more than two portions of food which include pastry each week.

In addition to the standards relating to nutrition, there is also pressure to ensure that food is sustainable, environmentally friendly and ethically produced – amplified in the wake of the horsemeat scandal – while maintaining low costs for the buying authority and the users. All of which will be covered in catering tenders.

Challenges in catering tenders

At Executive Compass, our expert bid writers are experienced in portraying your organisation’s capabilities in a way that exceeds the service requirements and achieves high evaluation scores in your proposal for catering tenders.

Budget: the primary challenge is to assure the buying authority that you can provide high quality, nutritious, tasty food consistently, whilst paying staff fairly, and keeping prices low. We can help you to evidence your ability to do this through a suitable case study or suggesting relevant examples such as preparing a fully costed menu plan.

Supply chain: to reassure the buyer that the food you serve will be produced sustainably, ethically and environmentally, we will help you to demonstrate that you engage effectively with your supply chain during the provision of your catering services and also catering equipment.
Staffing: public sector contracts often involve TUPE, which can be a daunting prospect for suppliers. We understand the requirements and implications and can guide you through the tender specifications, and help you to write a compliant response.

Bid writing support

Our team of writers remain up to date with forthcoming catering tender opportunities and can identify suitable opportunities and signpost you to them, supporting you throughout the tendering process.


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