2007 Catering Study: And the survey says ...

The desire to operate foodservice in a more environmentally friendly manner isn’t necessarily a driving force in catering.

Million-dollar baby: But whether caterers recycle or not, their operations are big business for their institutions or companies—especially on college campuses, where respondents averaged nearly $1.1 million in catering revenue last year. The average for all respondents was $468,000, with B&I operators reporting $561,000, hospitals averaging $239,000 and school districts only $88,000.

And it’s growing. Sixty percent of respondents said their revenue increased in 2007, led by colleges (77%) and B&I (71%). Fifty-seven percent of hospitals reported an increase in revenue, as did 44% of school districts.

Most operators (80%) attributed the growth to a higher number of catered events. Among the other causes cited were increased customer satisfaction (66%), increase in customer base (40%), menu changes (32%), and marketing and promotions (28%).

Going off-site: This growth comes in the face of continuing competition, since only 40% of respondents said they have exclusive rights to catering. Universities are most likely (66%) to have a catering monopoly, while B&I operators (10%) are least likely.

Universities are also most likely (63%) to  cater to both on- and off-premise customers, while B&I operators (27%) least likely.

Off-premise catering can be more lucrative for operators, because they can—and often do—charge more for off-premise events. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they charge more for off-premise, with universities (67%) and hospitals (64%) most likely to. Only one-third of B&I respondents said they have a two-tiered pricing structure.

That being said, catering is not necessarily a profit center, according to the survey. Only 44% of respondents said they operate catering at a profit, while 15% said it is a break-even proposition and 41% said catering operates at a loss or is subsidized. Colleges (67%) and B&I (57%) most frequently run catering as a profit center, while hospitals (58%) and school districts (42%) either subsidize catering or operate it at a loss.

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Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

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