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University Catering Award: King’s Food Team - King’s College London

9th Apr 2024 - 11:44

King’s College London (KCL) is a large community of 35,000 students and 8,000 staff and to support and enhance their food experience a team of 130 food service professionals work for the in-house catering brand: King’s Food.

King’s Food operate across all five campuses and the service portfolio includes 20 retail outlets and extensive hospitality comprising of: delivered catering, fine dining, internal and external events as well as graduation ceremonies.

With the support from TUCO and its suppliers, King’s Food has realigned all products in outlets, increased the average gross profit to 65% and all achieved without increasing the selling price. To support with the cost-of-living crisis, KCL put aside £750,000 to deliver an affordable food offer for the community.

King’s Food Team prides itself of influencing the community and affecting change. Working with a group of students this year they began rewarding lower carbon food choices. This is an ongoing piece of research into behaviours with results and finding to be published at the end of the year.

The university removed beef from their menus four years ago and ran meat free Monday’s for a while but the lack of meat on Monday’s did affect sales. After an introduction from Brakes in 2022 King’s Food partnered with Beyond Meat and created ‘Beyond Meat Monday’s’.

The hot food choices in all outlets are either vegetable-based or a Beyond Meat dish. This has enabled them to grow the Monday footfall, which is circa 1,100 covers each Monday. This initiative has saved a total of 15.6 Tonnes CO2e per year.

King’s Food is working closely with the academics in the nutrition department to ensure food options are balanced and hit essential food groups. After a successful work placement last year King’s Food now employs a masters nutrition student and registered dietitian as King’s Food health and nutrition advisor. The team has undertaken the monumental task of nutritionally analysing all menu items, to ensure that each dish is balanced, healthy and delicious.

A Too Good To Go programme was introduced two years ago, which has saved 2,570 items of food from being wasted, reducing CO2e by 6.42 tonnes. Since September of 2023, the team also started a monthly ‘fighting food waste’ group whose members include staff from kitchens, front of house and hospitality, to examine how left-over food can be reused.

Since the review of their food strategy, 350,000 hot dishes have been sold, generating a revenue in the region of £1.5m. Additional benefits include positive customer feedback, loyalty and a heathier community on campus. 

This has also had an impact on their sustainability credentials, and this is measured by the reduction in food waste generated, plate scrapings are minimal and waste from food preparation is also reduced.

As food is locally sourced, transport is reduced, thus reducing CO2 emissions. The use of seasonal vegetables and animal food products of a higher quality also has a lighter impact on the environment. In fact, CO2e savings over the life cycle of the project so far is 6.42 tonnes. 

PSC Alliance