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Improve operational efficiencies

Michelle Parnham, Head of Sales (Public Sector) at Pelican Procurement Services, shares her knowledge on how catering organisations can create cost and operational efficiencies amid continued pressure on resources, combined with the fluctuating commodity prices.

These two key steps can be taken to help mitigate these challenges:    

Centrally analyse purchasing

Rising inflation is having a real impact on food prices, which sees prices continually shifting. Procurement in food alone can become a full-time job to track, negotiate and assess alternative options.  We support organisations in not only consolidating suppliers but also product ranges. It’s important to emphasise that controlling costs doesn’t simply mean ordering less volume or taking a hit on quality.  Instead, it’s about having a holistic view of procurement; having centralised access to data not only helps to make better-informed decisions but it also identifies cost savings. 

As an example, we recently worked with a care home provider with around 40 sites, and by centrally analysing purchasing processes, suppliers and product lines, we identified that they were previously buying nine different types of loaves of bread. They were purchased from different suppliers, at varying prices, with different delivery logistics, with some choosing frozen while others were purchasing ambient. 

In the same exercise, we also identified that six different brands of jelly were being purchased across all sites!  By consolidating, the care operator was able to make immediate financial savings in these areas alone.

When undertaking any product review, it is always important to never forget about the end customer.  As such, we organise blind taste sessions for our clients to make sure that they are happy with the quality of the item being procured. 

For example, we recently sampled fresh versus frozen vegetables in a taste test, and the client switched to frozen, happy with the taste, texture and quality, and achieved an annual saving of over £20,000. 

Also, don’t forget non-food items such as toilet rolls or chemicals, which can become very habitual purchases.  One tip is to consider concentrated products, where each product goes much further.

Reduce manual invoice processing

Invoice management is rarely the main reason we are asked to help an organisation; however, it is often cited as one of the key benefits that generate significant efficiencies for all.

We have worked with countless organisations that have struggled to manage massive volumes of supplier invoices. So many organisations continue to operate manually, taking time and effort, to correlate invoice items against what has been delivered across multiple sites and at the correctly pre-negotiated price.  Not only is this mundane, but it is also hugely time-consuming and labour-intensive.

At Pelican, we manage this entire process for clients, and instead of receiving multiple invoices, a single monthly statement is provided. Using our centralised Pelican Pi system, the items have all been verified against the agreed purchase lists, and the prices checked, removing a great deal of manual burden from organisations.

When working with Manchester Metropolitan University, they’ve been able to save around £70K a year alone in saved administrative time. The finance department now only has one invoice to process, creating fantastic time savings.

They also like the fact that they have our team negotiating on their behalf, monitoring the total market, assessing pre-approved product lists and pre-empting any changes.  It all creates efficiencies for the University, enabling its catering and finance functions to focus on other tasks.

Another example in this area is with Silverline Care; since partnering with Pelican, over 8,000 invoices have been processed on Silverline’s behalf, which they confirm has given them a direct financial saving of £76,000.

Seek a valuable partnership

Finally, my advice is to seek help from an external outsourced partner that meets your needs.

We, at Pelican, ultimately provide the insight and support that puts you back in control of your day job, removing administrative burdens on your team and helping you to make better-informed spending decisions, both now and in the future.

Our team manage supplier relationships, products and prices, and offer the latest online platform, Pi, that centralises ordering, supplier payments, and stock control, tracks wastage, manages menus and allergens and much more – and all at no cost or overhead to your organisation.

We are here to help

If you would like the Pelican team to identify potential savings through benchmarking any of your purchases across food and non-food categories; or to book a Pi demo to see how you can remove mundane administration – please contact us today on

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