TUCO poll reveals university food outlets may not reopen until Jan 2021

According to a recent survey by The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO), 60% of those surveyed were planning to reopen more than half (60%) of their food outlets by September, while 78% didn’t expect to reopen more than half (60%) of their outlets until January 2021.

Bars were lower down the list of priority for reopening with 41% planning to re-open 60% of bars by September and a further 11% (51%) not expecting to open the majority of their bars until January 2021.

The impact of the pandemic has also seen several universities pivot to expand on the services they can offer. This includes 68% who are planning on operating a click and collect service, where they didn’t pre-Covid-19 and 48% who are planning to offer pre-prepared meals, snacks and food to go/takeaway where they didn’t pre-Covid-19.

Mike Haslin, CEO of The University Caterers Organisation said; “We’ve seen incredible resilience from our members in pivoting their services to meet the increasing challenges the industry has faced as a result of the Coronavirus.

'It is heartening to hear so many are now able to re-open outlets in September which will bring much needed funds back into campuses.

'It should also be noted that although a high percentage won’t be opening food outlets until January this may only represent a fraction of the catering outlets on their site, and they may alternatively be offering other takeaway options to students.”

This latest poll follows on from surveys conducted during various webinars held in June by TUCO. In these webinars on ‘The future of catering in the new normal’ 80% of the 157 universities polled during the recording said they expected to offer takeaway catering if social distancing measures continued. While Covid-19 has also boosted the need for cashless campuses with 86% of members polled already accepting Apple Pay and 56% accepting Android pay.

In response to catering provision, many of the universities discussed how they had seen an increase in external takeaway vendors coming onto campus and were planning to target the takeaway market to boost income streams within universities.

According to another poll, members anticipated achieving approximately 50% of catering sales for 2020/2021.

A further survey found that 54% of members planned to have front facing staff wearing face masks when campuses reopened.