On 31st March 2019, delegates from six TUCO member institutions came together, along with TUCO’s Category Manager Kim Ashley and the senior Category Manager from Adelie Foods, Melissa Petch, for an immersive study tour into the Food-to-Go Market covering London and Paris.

study tour delegates

The group, who were made up of catering and operations managers, hospitality and events managers, bars managers, commercial managers and category managers, came together with the objectives to study different types of customers and their spending patterns, understand the right range of products to sell in their stores and how to stock and display them, explore on-trend sandwiches and snacks through walking tours, exhibitions and networking, and finally to explore the benefits of using a planogram.

What makes Study Tours with the TUCO Academy extra special, is the dedication and involvement offered from TUCO suppliers. Before, during and even after this study tour, Adelie Foods made themselves completely at the disposal of the attending TUCO delegates. Prior to the tour departing, the group were offered private visits from Adelie to complete an extensive analysis of their current food-to-go offerings. The research would result in a bespoke plan tailored to supporting their institution's food-to-go offering, which would then be discussed throughout the Study Tour – a priceless opportunity. Adelie also offered all attending members the opportunity to have a unique planogram designed for their retail units based on the pre-tour research carried out and the findings during the study tour.

The group met for the first time over a delicious dinner at Kimchee restaurant, whereby the group were able to meet and get to know each other, followed by a night in central London, the group awoke refreshed and ready for a day exploring food-to-go services and trends in England’s capital.

To start the day, Adelie met the group at Impact Hub, an ultra-modern meeting space where they presented to the group on the food-to-go Market, including current trends and statistics.

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After the presentation, and with a new knowledge of the importance of the food-to-go market, the group took to the streets of London Fitzrovia for a walking tour, visiting nine different food establishments, which showcased the best of the food-to-go market. As Adam Settle, University of Liverpool explains; “The food tour of London was really insightful, providing a snapshot of current and emerging food trends. It was an opportunity to taste lots of different food options, see how they had been presented, note their price points, and look to the other menu items for inspiration. There was also time to reflect on what we had already seen and tasted as we ate lunch at yet another restaurant.”

Highlights of the walking tour included the exploration of different cuisines in food-to-go offerings such as Hawaiian, Korean and Japanese dishes, and insights into interesting and tasty vegetarian and vegan food-to-go options at Crussh, a ‘fit food’ establishment offering great examples of hot health food. Martin Barham, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge tells TUCO; “I hope to be able to introduce some new vegetarian and vegan dishes [back at my institution].”

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Tracey Gardner from The University of Edinburgh told TUCO; “[it was] great to see different brands/attention to detail and look at my sites with a fresh pair of eyes.”

Having explored the food-to-go market in London, it was then time for the group to continue their learning across the pond. Following a quick Eurostar journey, the group had dinner at Hippopotamus Restaurant near Gare de Nord before spending the night in Paris.

" "The following morning, and the final day of the study tour, delegates donned their event passes and attended the Sandwich and Snack Show – an annual event held in Paris which showcases the very best of the European food-to-go market, with stands showcasing produce and dishes from across the globe to suppliers and institutions. A visit to the Sandwich and Snack show aimed to provide TUCO delegates with new ideas and fresh inspiration to take back to their institutions, as Watson Bell from the University of St Andrews explains; “We are currently in the design stage for a new cafe. Seeing the practical application of several concepts was very helpful and sparked new ideas.”

Kim Ashley, Category Manager at TUCO and on-tour Representative found the Sandwich and Snack Show especially educational in terms of the importance of ‘appearance’. “Though it was quite clear visiting the show that the UK leads the Food to Go market in terms of special diets and innovation, what was interesting was the effortless emphasis on the appearance of the food. From beautiful patisserie, to Japanese Street Foods and even snack pots, each dish being served was ‘Instagrammable’!”

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As the study tour drew to a close, the delegates travelled back to London by Eurostar, with a final networking opportunity. Creating new contacts and networking amongst peers is often an element of study tours that TUCO members appreciate the most and is something that TUCO will always factor time into every itinerary;

“Through conversations with other members, I also plan to contact them separately to discuss sustainability ideas which they have already put into place.” – Adam Settle Liverpool Hope University.

“It was enjoyable to network with fellow colleagues from different locations.” Watson Bell, University of St Andrews.

“[The most enjoyable part of the tour was] Meeting colleagues from other institutions.” - Tracey Gardner, The University of Edinburgh

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“I think the organisation of the whole process was fantastic, our TUCO rep Kim was great and really made us feel welcome. It has been sometime since I have done something like this and found it a great experience.”

- Delegate from The University of Edinburgh

“Immediately, I have circulated the menu ideas with our Head Chef as inspiration for vegetarian and vegan menus… Long term, and as a smaller university, I will look to see what food-to-go offerings our suppliers might have which we're not currently utilising. At the Summer Conference, I will also be looking to see what is available to overhaul the offering in one of our foodservice outlets ahead of the new student intake in September - I am thinking of vegetarian and vegan options; the viability of veggie only days (or a complete veggie-only menu); more varied food-to-go options.”

- Delegate from Liverpool Hope University

“Kim [Ashley] was fantastic and a great host. It was also enjoyable to network with fellow colleagues from different locations.”

- Delegate from University of St Andrews