Mike Haslin, Chief Executive Officer at TUCO, The University Caterers Organisation, discusses how to achieve value for money in these unpredictable times
JJ Food Service
JJ Food Service is an Award-winning independent, family-owned foodservice wholesaler delivering from 11 branches across the UK to customers that include schools, restaurants, local authorities and more.
As a national operator with more than 60,000 customers, JJ has the buying power to negotiate and sustain highly competitive prices, which is no doubt helpful to caterers who may be working on increasingly tight budgets.
Quality, availability and consistency are crucial to the business. JJ offers schools and universities the ‘total package’ and currently holds a position on the NHS framework agreement as one of its trusted multi-temperature suppliers.
Whether supplying a school, university, nursery or college, it’s important to be able to cater for a range of different ethnicities, tastes and food intolerances.
At JJ we offer a wide range of gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and ethnic halal options. We have also expanded our range of fresh fruits and vegetables, including working with regionally sourced suppliers.
Food for Life Accreditation
Many schools are working towards gaining the ‘Food For Life’ accreditation – which promotes food quality, health and sustainability. We are delighted to announce that we have an in-house qualified nutritionist, which means we can support customers to build nutritionally balanced, high quality menus.
Environmental credentials are critical to our business and we are pleased to announce the installation of solar panels on the roofs of many of our branches. Solar energy is sustainable, renewable and the panels require little to no maintenance.
We also recently invested in the use of Telematics for our vehicle fleet, which has helped to improve the performance of all our drivers and reduce the environmental impact of our vehicles.
In terms of sourcing, we work with a variety of MSC-certified and regionally sourced suppliers to support our customers’ requirements for sustainably sourced ingredients.
Using Tech to Improve Service
Caterers have a lot of choice when it comes to whom to work with – at JJ Food Service we like to think that our point of difference is our use of technology to improve service. We have an Award-winning website and customer App which uses predictive ordering to know what customers want to order. Our App now has fingerprint ID and One Tap payment to make the checkout process even faster.
63% of JJ’s sales come from orders placed online and 35% of sales come from own-label products. Orders placed by 9pm will be delivered on the next available delivery day and same-day collection is available for all customers, seven days a week.
Branches are open every day for collection, including weekends and bank holidays.
Education Case Study
Newham Council’s Juniper Ventures has just doubled its shopping list with JJ Food Service and has plans to roll out their paperless catering service to support even more businesses in the local area – all with the support of the team and products at JJ’s!
Kevin Hobart, Head of Catering at Juniper Ventures (Newham) says, “Working with the right supplier is key – we chose JJ’s because they are responsive, competitively priced and can work in a fully digital environment.” This is particularly important since Newham school cooks have been getting technical.
Schools Chefs Get Digital
“All of our kitchen managers have touch-screen tablets, which they now use to process information on a daily basis”, explains Kevin.
“It’s a slick operation with little margin for error. It’s helped to improve our service and allows us to reduce our carbon footprint. We have also been able to cut down on our use of paper and limit food wastage through having frequent access to real-time data. JJ’s is the first wholesaler that’s been able to work with us in this way,” he said.
JJ’s are also very local to our business – we place orders for delivery from the Enfield and Dagenham branches – the small 7.5 tonne vehicles are state-of-the-art multi-temperature vehicles, which can easily nip in and out of the local area and keep chilled, fresh and frozen products at optimum temperatures.
Communication and Trust
Good communication and trust are also important, adds Kevin. “The team at JJ’s has supported us with all our requirements – including getting new products in which were not previously listed. And sourcing products competitively, to suit our budget.”
Despite previously only buying frozen products from JJ’s, Kevin now buys a range of items including chilled dairy, poultry and potato products, tinned fruits and vegetables, bakery and desserts, vegetarian and vegan options, and more!
“We’ve just recently doubled our business with JJ’s,” he said. “A big challenge for us in 2018 is to get the best value out of our suppliers. We know that JJ’s sells across a range of categories and when we benchmarked them against other suppliers, they performed really well and helped us to consolidate our shop to one place.”
As a result, at the end of last year, Newham renewed its multi-million pound contract with JJ’s and added additional products to more than double its value.
Newham is one of a very small number of authorities that provide free school meals to junior pupils as well as infants.
“The team at JJ’s offers the range, service and trust we need to put together nutritious and tasty school menus – while keeping within our budget. We look forward to building on that trust as we expand our business this year and beyond.”
Contact us to find out how we can support your catering requirements:
Business Development Manager