07 March 2008 | Paul Snell
The British Hospitality Association (BHA) is calling for improvements in the way public sector catering contracts are awarded.
Phil Hooper, chairman of the BHA's food and service management forum, said tender documents were too detailed, too inflexible and too expensive. And they take too long to complete.
And while he recognised improvements were being made in recognition of value, he said decisions were still being taken on lowest cost.
"The ultimate objective in the main is to find the lowest tender, almost irrespective of value," said Hooper. "This has certainly been the case in the past which has resulted in much heartache all round."
Hooper added that the procurement processes needed to be reformed, with departments communicating more with each other and standard approaches being developed.
Suppliers told the BHA's UK Food and Service Management Survey 2008 they wanted more opportunity to discuss specifications with clients, so they could demonstrate innovation and ensure better service.
"There are too many people engaged in procuring a catering service who know absolutely nothing about food and are hidebound by procurement gobbledegook," said Tim West, chief executive of supplier Lexington Catering.