A leading Welsh food wholesaler has clinched a deal to help one of the UK’s top universities go greener.
Harlech Foodservice delivery lorries and vans will be regular callers at Keele University, in Staffordshire, which has 10,000 students on its campus and has been ranked the UK’s fifth best university by students.
It’s a major coup for the fast-growing business which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and is benefiting from its decision to open a second major distribution hub in Chester.
Harlech Commercial Director Mark Lawton said: “The opening of our depot and sales office in Chester means that we’re right on the doorstep for a prestigious university like Keele where we are supplying general food and meat products.
“What helped us clinch the deal was that we can help them reduce their carbon footprint by supplying them with more sustainably-sourced products and by our own efforts to be greener.
“It’s a contract we have been able to compete for because we are now within range and able to provide prompt deliveries which also helps them reduce their carbon footprint.
“The work we are doing to cut our own carbon use impressed them and convinced them we were a company they could work with and do some work on joint initiatives including carbon offsetting.
“What definitely helps is that we source so much of our product range from North Wales, Cheshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire which reduces their food miles.”
Emma Woodcock, Head of Business Development at Keele University, said: “We’re committed to sustainability and to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and part of that commitment is reducing our food miles and Harlech will help us do that while supplying high quality produce.
“Keele was one of the first UK universities to declare a ‘climate emergency’ and over the last six years we’ve invested over £1.2m into carbon reduction – and will be investing more every year.
“We’re truly sector-leading in environmental education and have world-leading research in environmental sustainability so that for the fourth consecutive year we have been placed among the Top 40 universities in the world for sustainability.”
It is a contract Harlech have been able to bid for through their membership of TUCO – The University Caterers Organisation – a framework which qualifies businesses to provide catering services for the public sector and which has already helped them seal important deals with education authorities to supply schools in Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd in North Wales and Knowsley, on Merseyside.
Mark Lawton added: “We see this as a very prestigious contract and a real statement of our intent to make a mark not just in Wales but over the border as well.
“It’s all about reliability and service because the catering industry is really suffering from problems of food supplies, shortages of HGV drivers and other supply issues but we are continuing to cope and to provide a great service for our customers.”
The deal with Keele is one of two major higher and further education deals worth more than £1 million that have been landed by Harlech already this year.
They are also supplying Salford Catering College and have major schools’ contracts with Knowsley Council, on Merseyside, and with Conwy, Denbighshire and Gwynedd Councils in North Wales.