The colleges of University of Oxford

Preserving the proud traditions of each college whilst delivering money saving solutions

Preserving the proud traditions of each college whilst delivering money saving solutions

Foodbuy has been delivering procurement services and an eProcurement system to the colleges of the University of Oxford since 2001, supporting 27 colleges and a number of related establishments. Located in and around Oxford’s city centre, the historic and architecturally brilliant colleges of Oxford are the term-time homes to many of the 24,000 students studying at the University of Oxford.

Key achievements

  • Preserving the proud traditions of each college whilst delivering money saving solutions
  • Supporting 120 Foodquad users on our eProcurement and P2P system, EPSYS
  • EPSYS processes around 66,000 orders annually for the colleges
  • Improved accuracy and greater visibility of what’s being ordered
  • Ensuring products are sourced ethically and responsibly
  • Ensuring a competitive mix of local, regional and national suppliers

Buying smarter together 

Each college is steeped in history and has its own traditions and personality, each one making its own decisions and manging its own finances. However, when it comes to the purchasing of food, each college share the same commitments, to source food from sustainable, ethical and safe sources.

Combining spend to drive cost savings whilst also establishing shared policies, 27 colleges and four associated members joined together to form Foodquad, a catering purchasing group. Foodquad consists of bursars, chefs and other key catering staff from each of the participating colleges.

Preserving traditions whilst delivering savings

Foodbuy has been supporting Foodquad’s procurement for the past 20 years, successfully securing a five-year contract extension in 2019. Working with the colleges, we’ve reorganised suppliers to better reflect the expansive needs of the colleges, preserving the proud traditions of each college whilst delivering cost saving solutions.

Catherine Glynn, Foodbuy’s Account Manager to Foodquad, has worked with the colleges for the past six years and considers our success as procurement partner to be through our understanding of the client:

“The key to effectively supporting Foodquad in their food procurement is understanding that each college is independent. It’s a careful balance between ensuring that their pricing reflects their combined purchasing volume, whilst maintaining their ability to retain individualism”.

Supporting local businesses and small producers

Both Foodbuy and Foodquad are passionate about supporting local businesses and small producers. To support this, we have created a supplier framework that includes a competitive mix of suppliers and producers ranging from small family-run businesses to large national wholesalers and everything in between.

The relationship between the colleges, Foodbuy and the suppliers is crucially important, so a significant part of our work goes into building our Foodquad community. Our expert team regularly arranges supplier and producer visits so that our clients can understand where their food comes from.

James Lyall, Director at Mayfield Eggs, a local and family-owned egg farm located 10 miles from Oxford says:

“The opportunity to serve the Oxford University colleges with our free-range eggs has played a key role in growing our farming business. Working with Foodbuy has helped give us a simplified and standardised way of working across the colleges, using tools such as their online ordering and invoicing system.”

Making purchasing easy

Our market-leading eProcurement system, EPSYS, provides a full procure to pay (P2P) solution with colleges able to place all orders online. Suppliers then upload invoices, which the system matches against the relevant order, and goods receipts before passing to the accounts team for payment.

EPSYS also enables Foodquad members to view all of their live products and prices, create recipes, calculate costings, manage stock, report on allergens and nutritional information and much more. This saves time by reducing manual processing, improves accuracy and gives greater visibility of what’s being ordered.

Brian Cole, Catering Manager at New College, a user of EPSYS for 15 years said:

“EPSYS provides us with a one-stop solution for all of our procurement requirements with the added assurance that agreed prices are fixed and all supported with a built in QA process. We use the system from ordering and delivery right through to paperless invoicing. The recipe module helps us manage cost and calculate allergens in our menus, essential with Natasha’s law coming into force. The savings on staff time and the traditional woes associated when purchasing in a volatile market from the kitchen floor to the accounts office are both tangible and very welcome.”

Adrian Bosher, Accounts Manager at New College said:

”The manual method of checking off and approving invoices for payment can be hugely time consuming, even more so if you’re working remotely. With EPSYS, an order is placed electronically by the kitchen, the prices of the products are stored within individual price files, the invoice is uploaded by the supplier and then providing the order and invoice reconcile, the invoice is uploaded for payment. With all this, EPSYS not only saves a great deal of time, but inevitably also helps reduce paper usage.”

Peace of mind with allergen compliance

Natasha’s Law is coming into effect in October 2021, making the clear and correct labelling of allergens essential on pre-packaged foods. Working closely with our suppliers, we have mandated the entry of product allergens in EPSYS, making it easy for chefs and catering managers to calculate the allergens in their recipes as well as giving them peace of mind that their allergen information is accurate and up to date.

Helen Jackson, Group Account Manager at Philip Dennis said:

“Philip Dennis has been a key local wholesaler to Foodquad for 25 years. We work closely with Foodbuy to ensure that our products and pricing are regularly updated on EPSYS and with Natasha’s law coming into effect, the ability to upload all of our allergen data gives us peace of mind that we are supporting our customers effectively.”

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