Northumbria University is set to launch a ‘tapas style’ sharing platter for the first time, following a successful trial with McCain, and is predicting strong demand when the ‘Mexican Combo Platter’ is introduced more permanently from freshers week in September 2011. While ‘tapas style’ sharing platters have become a staple of many high street pub chains in recent years, Northumbria University is leading the way in the university sector by introducing them to its Habite Bar, part of the University’s Newcastle city centre campus.
With a city centre location, and increasing competition from local pubs and high street venues, the catering team at Northumbria University is always on the look-out for tasty, exciting and good value menu options that will compete with what is available elsewhere and encourage students to stay on campus. The Mexican Combo Platter includes McCain Sweet Potato Fries, Rustics Chips, Onion Rings and Chilli Cheese Bites, with a generous helping of salsa and garlic mayonnaise, and is expected to help the Habite bar make a big impression on the new influx of first year students, who are all potential new customers.
Jo Simmons, Senior Brand Manager for McCain Foods, who worked with Northumbria University to identify the opportunity, said: “From our work in the pub sector we know there is a huge demand for sharing dishes but up until now this area of ‘food sharing’ has remained largely un tapped by universities. The initial trials have proved very successful, both operationally and with students, and the platter will help the Habite Bar compete more effectively with local pubs on the high street. ‘Sharing’ food is a big opportunity for universities, and we are conducting similar trials elsewhere and we’re expecting equally positive results.”
What the caterer says
Judith Trewick, Northumbria University Catering Manager, City Campus West, said: “The sharing platters have gone down a storm in trials and, besides driving increased profits, have helped add a bit of ‘wow’ factor to the menu.
“They also look great, are easy for a mixed skills catering team to prepare and, most importantly, are really popular with the students who feel they’re getting good food at a great price.
“Freshers Week is a key opportunity for us to make sure we replace the graduate customers that we’ve just lost with the new crop of students and sharing platters are a great way to make a good first impression and help our service stand out from the crowd.”
Alongside tasty, good value food, stewardship and environmental practices are also of particular concern to students, and this is an area where McCain takes its responsibilities very seriously. McCain is the largest single buyer of British potatoes and uses fully traceable, quality potatoes selected from Red Tractor farmers to make its chips. An ongoing sustainability programme dedicated to reducing waste, water and power usage is also in place.