Foodservice Catering Trends in U.S.

Jan 1, 2011
120 Pages - Pub ID: LA2848313
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Emerging from a dismal 2009, the catering industry is on the rebound. Packaged Facts estimates that 2010 catering revenue among caterers, restaurants, foodservice contractors, and hotels reached $14.2 billion, a 9.0% increase from 2009, according to Packaged Facts’ Catering Trends in U.S. Foodservice.

Going forward, we believe that sales will rise 9.1% in 2011 and 6.5% in 2012, driven primarily by aggressive expansion into the catering space by limited-service establishments, the return of business event-driven spending, higher wedding spending, and a moderately healthier consumer.

With its high-growth days likely behind it, the restaurant industry continues to adapt to the in-home entertaining trend while taking in-home meal share from food retailers. This convergence signifies an increasingly competitive battleground for the catering dollar not only among restaurants and food retailers, but also for caterers and hotels. Sustained growth will require growing catering opportunity, primarily in the form of significant consumer life events.

This Packaged Facts report provides the insight and analysis market participants need to plan their catering and foodservice strategies. Key coverage includes the following:

  • A market size and forecast for the catering industry, including caterers; full-service restaurants; limited-service restaurants; snack and non-alcoholic beverage establishments; foodservice contractors; and hotels.
  • Key factors to catering growth: travel, hotels and accommodations, and holiday party spending
  • Trended consumer catering expenditures by demographic.
  • Catering trends within the institutional foodservice category, with a focus on hospitals and colleges and universities.
  • Restaurant catering operation tracking
  • Catering macro-trend analysis, including the economy; sustainability and environmental concerns; technology; food & celebrity chef familiarity; and health trends.
  • Insight on the “catered meals” consumer, including stand-alone analysis as well as restaurant, institutional foodservice and food retail context.
  • Catering operations analysis of a mixture of restaurant, food retail, foodservice contractor, and caterer companies, such as Panera Bread, Whole Foods Market, Compass Group, and Blue Plate Catering.
  • Catering “opportunity analysis” of significant life events (such as births, weddings, and funerals) as well as significant social events (such as the Super Bowl).


Additional Information

Market Insights: A Selection From The Report


Share of Stomach: Catering Market Size and Forecast
In this section, Packaged Facts provides a market size and forecast for the catering industry. Its scope includes caterers; full-service restaurants; limited-service restaurants; snack and nonalcoholic beverage establishments; foodservice contractors; and hotels.

Insight capsule
• Packaged Facts estimates that 2010 catering revenue reached $14.2 billion, a 9.0% increase from 2009. Going forward, we believe that sales will rise 9.1% in 2011 and 6.5% in 2012, driven primarily by aggressive expansion into the catering space by limited-service establishments, the return of business event-driven spending, higher wedding spending, and a moderately healthier consumer.

• With its high-growth days likely behind it, the restaurant industry must find ways to take in-home share from food retailers while adapting to the trend toward in-home entertaining. This convergence signifies an increasingly competitive battleground for the catering dollar.

Trends afoot

Many of the trends coming to the fore of institutional programs are cost based, a result of tightening budgets and a more pronounced need to demonstrate catering program value. They include the following:

  • Transitioning toward buffets and away from sit-down dinners
  • Transitioning toward pick-up and way from delivery
  • Proving that catering an event serves a purpose to the institution
  • No-frills menus
  • Reductions in selections and/or servings
  • Less costly meats and lower pricing structures

University of Washington Medical Center nears $1 million in catering sales

UWMC serves an average of 1,000 patient meals and 5,000 cafeteria meals per day. The UWMC foodservice department has annual retail sales of $5 million, which includes catering sales of $950,000. UWMC also offers catering. A four person catering staff manages up to 20 events per day, most of which are small staff meetings.

  • Percentage of catering that makes up overall business (2008) - 10 percent
  • Annual catering sales (2007) - $950,000

Summa Health System goes no-frills

Nearly 85% of Akron, Ohio-based Summa Health System's catered events are handled in-house,
the organization does outside catering at a 50% markup.

In the News

Catering Foodservice Rebounds from Recession, Growth Forecast through 2012

New York, January 11, 2010— Though the recession brought a period of famine to the catering foodservice industry, the feast is at hand as growth initiated last year will continue through 2012 due to aggressive expansion into the catering space by limited-service establishments, the return of business event-driven spending, higher wedding spending, and a moderately healthier consumer, according to Catering Trends in U.S. Foodservice by market research publisher Packaged Facts.

"Self-standing catering operations dominate sales, but full-service restaurants, limited-service restaurants and snack and beverage concepts also contribute significantly. Driven by aggressive catering launches and expansions, our experts view restaurant-based catering as a growth area into 2012," says Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts.

Catering revenue exceeded $14 billion in 2010 for an increase of 9% over a stormy 2009. Sales are expected to increase 9% and 7% in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Catering at foodservice and drinking places generated 75% of the catering market size, or $11 billion, in 2010, up 8%. Limited-service establishments are expected to lead catering sales growth through 2012 due to the segment’s ability to leverage moderate menu pricing structures, provide portable fare, and offer in-house operations capabilities.

The recession brought declines in both corporate and consumer spending on catered events. However, Packaged Facts predicts that as the economy continues to recover, businesses will be eager to build revenues again and such eagerness may indirectly fuel the catering business through increased sales meetings, business travel, and convention attendance. Recovery will also spur consumers to entertain with more catered affairs. Weddings, graduations, births, funerals, and other milestones will return as catalysts for consumer spending on catering.

Meanwhile, consumers seeking healthier options have caused a significant change in catering, offering an advantage to companies that highlight the health benefits of their products. Key among these is Subway, which has long promoted the low-fat sub sandwiches on its menu as part of its marketing plans. Other caterers are also seeing a preference for healthier choices, with consumers opting for Greek yogurt, granola, and toasted nuts instead of bagels and donuts, for instance.

Catering Trends in U.S. Foodservice offers the insight and analysis market participants need to plan their catering and foodservice strategies, especially in regard to caterers as providers of single event-based food services. The scope of the market size and forecast is restricted to caterers; full-service restaurants; limited-service restaurants; snack and non-alcoholic beverage establishments; foodservice contractors; and hotels.

About Packaged Facts—Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer market topics, including consumer goods and retailing, foods and beverages, demographics, pet products and services, and financial products. Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services.

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Foodservice Market Insights

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