YUM: Price vs Quality
With a bottle of water costing £1 in YUM but only 50p in Tesco and 65p at M&S, is the University catering for the financial needs of its students? The results of a price comparison survey undertaken by the YUM management in March indicated that their products were generally more expensive than Tesco’s, but cheaper than branded coffee houses.
While YUM’s cheapest sandwich costs £1.80, M&S offers ham sandwiches at only a pound, and a wider selection of sandwiches is available for as little as £1.35 in their ‘Count on Us’ range.
Given these findings, some students have complained to Palatinate that YUM sandwiches are “overpriced for students”. It can be as expensive as £2.15 for a standard, egg and cress sandwich (to eat-in), compared to Tesco’s chicken and chorizo sandwich, which is £1.80. Additionally, and not available to Queens’ Campus cafe-goers, YUM offers a £3.50 meal deal that includes a sandwich, any 500ml drink and a snack (either crisps, a small portion of prepared fruit or confectionery).
In Tesco, a far cheaper meal-deal can be found, costing just £2.50, and the range of products included in it is more extensive. Besides sandwiches, diners can choose from boxed sushi and wraps. And for 45 pence more than YUM’s deal, a student can grab an M&S meal deal which offers far greater variety, including salads and pastas as well as the option to include a healthy fresh orange juice or smoothie.
Although YUM does not hide any price inequalities, displaying price-comparisons on signs in their outlets, the question remains concerning whether YUM succeeds in meeting its self-proclaimed philosophy to “exceed the needs of our customers”. Arguably, YUM does “exceed” some of its customers’ budgets.
Yet the University-run catering service remains popular amongst students, with queues often forming during lunch hours. During the exam-period lunchtime rush, unlucky students were confronted by near-empty shelves and a coffee machine without milk. YUM management reviewed product availability earlier this year and increased their orders on average by 370 products a week.
Students’ continued use of YUM franchises reveals one of their key strengths: convenience. Situated in prime locations including the main library and Queen’s Campus Ebsworth Building, YUM cashes-in on students’ notorious laziness. Whilst a £1 cheaper lunch may await in market square, YUM’s custom remains steady as students appreciate the ease of grabbing a snack between lectures, in the morning rush to labs after a heavy night in Klute and during extensive stints in the library.
Founded in 2001, YUM expanded over the Easter break 2010 to open its latest branch in the Riverside Café of the DSU. After a period of losing on average £700 per week, management of the Dunelm House café was handed over to YUM, in an attempt to help reduce the deficit of the DSU which then stood at £130,000. Alternatives considered for the space included licensing it to Starbucks. Some believed that this would have been a more viable option because such establishments, though far more expensive, are extremely commercially successful.
Despite the above criticism of its food provision, YUM can be praised for their coffee prices and the loyalty card scheme which makes the hot beverages better value for money. Constantly evolving, YUM’s loyalty card gives students their eighth coffee free. It is similar to the innovative loyalty schemes of companies like Costa, that gives customers 5p for every pound spent. YUM’s coffee-prowess arguably stretches beyond its prices and loyalty scheme.
Serving only Fairtrade, organic and Rainforest Alliance certified coffee, their green-credentials are undeniable. Fairtrade guarantees that farmers receive a minimum price of $1.26 per pound of coffee, whilst the Rainforest Alliance ensures that wildlife and the environment are not damaged in the process of growing coffee. Nothing is wasted as left-over coffee grounds are composted at the botanic garden.
YUM is neither the cheapest option, nor does it offer the most varied selection of food but it is both convenient and socially responsible. Picking up a meal deal from the corporate giant Tesco on the way to lectures in the morning will make the student loan stretch a little further. But, for some students, the difference may be in more than just the price.