We trialled the Kale Yeah! loyalty scheme at the University of Portsmouth. Here's how it went.

13 Dec 2022

How did it work?

The Kale Yeah! pilot at the University of Portsmouth ran for 2 terms from September 2018 to May 2019. All university catering outlets took part.

For every 6 veggie or vegan main meals or sandwiches bought, students earned a free meal (which could be veggie, fish or meat). There were no rules as to which purchases counted towards which reward. So, 6 sandwiches could earn a free main meal.

Customers swiped their existing electronic loyalty card at the tills to log and redeem their rewards. Initial IT support was needed to programme the tills.

The head of catering championed Kale Yeah! from the start. His support was key to implementing the scheme and enthusing front-line staff.

Eye-catching posters and stickers were displayed in cafés and around the university site. The university also promoted Kale Yeah! via social media and to the press. 

Front-line staff wore funky Kale Yeah! t-shirts, which were so popular with students that 50 extra t-shirts were produced and sold via the cafés.

Man by a cafe till wearing a t-shirt with the Kale Yeah! logo and woman holding her wallet
Kale Yeah! cafe till © Credit: Friends of the Earth

Before Kale Yeah! was launched, university chefs attended plant-based culinary workshops run by Forward Food to gain inspiration and knowledge on how to create delicious, plant-based meals. This made sure the food being incentivised tasted great.

Student ambassadors were also recruited to help promote the scheme and get early feedback from customers.

Results of the Kale Yeah! pilot

Data analysis from the tills showed that take-up of the loyalty scheme increased steadily over time:

  • 2,776 free meals were earned. This meant that 16,656 vegetarian/vegan meals were sold through the scheme.
  • 1,238 individual users participated in the scheme.
  • Sales of main dishes, breakfasts and sandwiches, as well as hot options (soups, paninis, toasties), all increased.
A graph showing café sales data before and during the Kale Yeah! scheme
Café sales data before and during the Kale Yeah! scheme


We carried out an online survey after a term to test awareness of the scheme. It revealed that:

  • 4 out of 5 students and staff surveyed had heard of Kale Yeah!, and more than half of all respondents knew what it was about.
  • More than half said the scheme would make them more likely to choose a veggie meal.
  • Half of respondents also said that the scheme would make them more likely to eat at a university café.

Student feedback

Café conversations between Kale Yeah! ambassadors and students helped build awareness and provide early qualitative feedback.

We learned that students were unclear how to take part in the scheme, so we produced a sticker to add to the posters that said “Just scan your loyalty card”. This was then incorporated into the editable poster design.

Key learnings

  • Great-tasting and exciting vegetarian and vegan dishes are needed on the menu from launch.
  • To make it cost effective, some purchases shouldn't be part of the offer (eg hot drinks, sides, a portion of chips or a dessert).
  • Caterers should plan in advance to reduce the amount of meat purchased and ensure alternatives are cost effective.
  • Front-line staff should receive initial training and ongoing support to continue to promote the scheme to customers.
  • A marketing plan is needed to ensure the scheme receives ongoing promotion.
  • Using an existing electronic card system made it easier, but a paper version, or one using an app like Magic Stamp, could work too.
  • Kale Yeah! t-shirts proved very popular and could be a source of revenue.
Kale Yeah!