Increased electricity and heating costs are one of the central reasons students are now paying more for food in the Buttery and other facilities run by College’s Catering Department. With increasing uncertainty surrounding the supply of natural resources and fluctuating oil prices in the international markets, energy costs have risen by 21 per cent in college run facilities.
Returning students will have noticed a ten percent hike in prices as of October 2008, with those dining in the Buttery, East Dining Hall and Banqueting Hall subject to increased charges. Simple costs such as a bottle of water have risen from €1.30 last year to €1.55 this year. However prices at the three Java City Coffee outlets and the Juice bar in the food court have not been subject to any rise in price.
Figures provided by Catering Manager Eugene McGovern noted a 6.8 percent increase in food costs, payroll increases of 6.5 percent and inflation of 5.4 percent. Although these were contributing factors to the rise in prices, he said that it was increased energy costs — up some 21 percent on last year — that had made the increases in food prices inevitable.
Mr McGovern stated that “after careful budgeting and scrutinising all costs”, College Catering reached the decision that raising food prices was necessary. Nevertheless he noted that any cost increases came only after a “competitive tendering process” aimed at addressing the increased cost of wholesale food.
Mr McGovern pointed out that the Buttery is operating in a competitive environment with 211 eating options within 6 minutes walk of the College. He stated that “Trinity Catering is not a subsidised service and must pay all its own costs.” Mr McGovern also pointed out that refurbishment to the Buttery last year was carried out to allow for “increased business levels”, and that it demonstrated the determination of the Buttery management to remain competitive in what is clearly a saturated market. Last year’s Buttery renovation cost €1.5million and was part of an attempt to update the Buttery to compete with outside food venues. In a frank quote, Mr McGovern said one of the main reasons was to rid the venue of the “greasy spoon of slopped up food on a plate” image. This year, he paid a warm tribute to the current staff for the “efficient” manner in which they carried out their jobs.
Despite increases this year, students won’t have to worry, as future price increases — with the exception of “unforseen major costs” outside of the control of the catering staff — have been ruled out until October 2009 at the earliest.