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TUCO Bid Writing for Frameworks

Written by Select Author


Jan 31, 2023

TUCO (The University Caterers Organisation) is one of the members of the UKUPC (UK University Purchasing Consortium) and they supply the public sector with procurement leadership and management within catering.

TUCO members by location:

  • Scotland 20 members
  • North West 21 members
  • Northern Ireland 3 members
  • Wales 9 members
  • South West 11 members
  • South East 25 members
  • Oxford 28 members
  • Cambridge 32 members
  • Midlands 17 members
  • North East 20 members

These members, plus affiliate members, represent higher education buyers who utilise TUCO for their catering requirements. In total, this includes 120 universities, 200 colleges, 40 local authorities and 20 NHS Trusts.

Catering, and associated food, drink and supplies, spend through the frameworks which they create and manage nearly exceeds £150m each year. If you are a catering business, supplier of food, drinks or catering supplies and interested in the higher education market or the public sector generally, TUCO is the place to be!

To understand what a ‘framework’ is click this link to see our detailed overview.

TUCO creates frameworks or approved lists of suppliers for their members to use. Through their agreements, they want to help the public sector:

  • Achieve procurement compliance
  • Source great suppliers and goods
  • Create efficiencies
  • Deliver Social Value, community benefits and environmental improvements.

TUCO Frameworks – 80% of Winning Bidders are SMEs or Micro Enterprises

An amazing 80% of TUCO suppliers are SMEs or micro-enterprises. This is partly due to the nature of their specialism but also because of how they manage their procurement.

Tenders are broken into regions where possible, split by specialist lots and do not require an excessive financial assessment. They also appreciate their members, their universities and colleges, want local suppliers who can produce quality services, understand and support local issues, and employ locally as a result of winning the new contract. These elements fall into Social Value, which will be required in the tender response. For initial guidance, view our detailed and practical guide to Social Value here.

We have developed an Ultimate Guide to Winning Catering Tenders and Frameworks, which can be found here.

Please see our bid writing top tips here, which will also help you secure your place on TUCO frameworks by allowing you to improve your bid writing and increase those all-important quality scores.

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TUCO Frameworks

TUCO has a mix of traditional 4-year framework agreements, alongside several dynamic purchasing systems (DPS). The key difference between a DPS and a framework is that a DPS can change over time, which includes being continually open to new suppliers. For a detailed comparison of frameworks and DPS agreements please see our article, which can be found here.

TUCO frameworks are renewed regularly so it is important to register and monitor tender alerts. We provide more information on this below. Their key agreements include:

  • Alcohol framework
  • Butchered meat and poultry framework
  • Catering innovation and concept solutions (CICS) DPS
  • Catering light & heavy equipment framework
  • Convenience retail products and services framework
  • Delivery app framework
  • Design & installation for customer experience framework
  • Disposables & kitchen chemicals framework
  • EPOS hardware & software systems DPS
  • Food waste management services DPS
  • Fresh fish & seafood framework
  • Fresh fruit & vegetables framework
  • Grocery frozen & chilled foods
  • Hot beverage framework
  • Kitchen equipment, maintenance, deep cleaning & ventilation ducting services DPS
  • Milk, dairy, bread & morning goods framework
  • Sandwiches and associated products framework
  • Supply and distribution of soft drinks framework
  • Temporary and permanent staff framework
  • Temporary structures DPS
  • Vegan & vegetarian specialist foods framework
  • Vending DPS.

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All the DPS agreements listed above are open to new suppliers without you having to wait months or years for a framework renewal.

Each of these frameworks and DPS solutions requires a quality submission, as well as your price. To ensure your quality response is compliant and as compelling as possible, you may want a second opinion, a bid review or the support and advice of an expert bid writing team that specialises in public sector tenders. Contact us to seek advice, to get a bid writing quote or why not brush up on your bidding skills with one of our bid writing training courses – dates can be found here.

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How does a TUCO Framework work?

TUCO uses the procurement portal In-tend. You can register for their tenders and frameworks here. In-tend is a common portal used by the public sector. It includes an online questionnaire, you will be able to access and download the full tender details and will need to submit your bid through it. If you have questions about the tender you are bidding for you can submit a clarification question through the message function also within the portal. This allows them to manage their procurement in an open, fair and transparent manner and communicate to bidders consistently.

For more tender opportunities, to monitor competitors' wins and set up email alerts take a look at our comprehensive and free tender alert software, covering UK and Europe, Tender Pipeline.

Getting on a TUCO framework will not necessarily create new business/ contracts for you. Once approved you will be invited to mini-competitions, or call-offs from the framework in order to compete for a specific contract. Getting on a framework is getting onto the approved list and making sure you are invited to tender. It means you are operating against a smaller number of competitors, due to the initial competition and shortlisting in order to be successfully awarded onto a framework.

TUCO Bid Writing Success - the role of an Awarded Supplier

Once successfully awarded onto a framework with TUCO the work doesn’t stop there; this is the start of the journey. What is good to know is that you will be receiving tender opportunities or further competitions that other competitors are not getting (who were not successfully awarded or approved onto the framework). These further competitions are based on the original framework questions but far more specific about the contract in question. Rather than a general framework question about how you would typical mobilise and implement a new contract, you will be asked how you will mobilise a very specific contract, in a specific location, with its own unique challenges to solve, whether that is current performance, facilities or local recruitment, for example. You won’t be given a general schedule of rates or basket of goods to price, but instead, you will be pricing for the specific project.

Waiting for these competitions to come through is part of it, however, the framework still needs to be ‘worked’, by which I mean sales and marketing, to get your fair or even unfair share of the opportunities. People still buy from people, so you may notice many suppliers who focus on the public sector have dedicated account manager staff developing key frameworks.

Several UKUPC partners also have advertising packages, to get your details in front of their education clients and you will also be provided with a contact list so you can promote your services as approved suppliers for framework XX. It is important to engage with TUCO, and share good news stories and case studies of what you have achieved for their members or similar client types.

Bid writing support for TUCO Framework?

Bid writing for public sector contracts is all we do. If you are looking for advice around TUCO bids please contact us and benefit from our knowledge and skills when it comes to procurement and bidding.

“In 2021, we have worked in partnership winning close to three-quarters of a million pounds in new business, with five new schools joining our portfolio”. Totally Local Company

To view feedback from our existing clients, click here.

We have produced several case studies demonstrating what we have achieved for clients bidding into the public sector, which can be found here.

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