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.

Better early than late: On average, 30% of catering revenue comes from breakfast and 42% comes from lunch, with only 22% of business being for dinners. Another 6% comes from special events.

Predictably, B&I operators do 90% of their catering during the day, while universities are much more likely to cater dinners. Those respondents said 31% of their average catering revenue comes from this daypart.

For those earlier dayparts, drop-off service is more often requested than any type of sit-down meal. Survey respondents said that 66% of their breakfast business is drop-off, as is 57% of luncheon business. By contrast, only 31% of dinner business is drop-off.  

Anecdotally, operators are seeing a move away from sit-down and waitservice functions, with more requests coming for buffet-style meals and drop-off services such as boxed lunches.

“Our largest growth has been in delivery service on campus,” says Brenda Ryan-Newton, director of catering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “With marketing and our catering Web page giving more easy access to our customer base, we have seen a substantial increase in this business.”

Citing the budget mindfulness of many university clients, she adds, “We tend to cater more buffets than sit-down dinners. It appears that our university sponsored sit-down meals are used mainly for large fundraising purposes.”

Other operators concur.

“We have seen more of an increase in simple delivery catering, box meals, etc.,” says Jim McAdam, owner of James Michael’s Catering on the campus of Eastman Chemical. “Our biggest decline is in sit-down meals.”

Echoing McAdam’s comments was Opal Spears, manager for HoneyBaked Ham, another Eastman caterer. “We’ve seen an increase in delivery, boxed lunches and buffets,” she says. “When people meet, they eat.”

Pick it up: Todd Foutty, director of foodservice for MetroHealth System in Cleveland, also notes a rise in the desire for buffets, as well as for pick-up, rather than delivery, service. “Pick-up is gaining because hospital departments are being forced to reduce their catering costs,” Foutty says. “Taking out the delivery/labor component reduces the cost to the department and the facility as a whole.”
He adds that catering volume at MetroHealth is rising in general because of cost concerns. “Internal catering is far less costly than when departments order from an outside vendor,” he explains.

Tony Almeida, director of nutrition services at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, N.J., agrees, adding that his prices encourage departments to upscale events.

“Our clients want to impress their guests with a high-end food presentation,” Almeida says. “We can do a high-end event for $30 a person, and still cost only half of what an outside caterer would charge.” Almeida also notes an increase in the demand for buffet service, but not necessarily for cost reasons.

“Our catering service has seen an increase in buffet dining because of the selections that can be offered, and the diversity of the guests,” he explains.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
staff pack

To keep staff motivated, we locked them in a room together. As part of a midsemester training session, we formed work groups and sent them to a local Escape Room to see which team could play the game together most effectively and escape first. Not only was this training a great team-building experience, but it supported a local new business and gave our staff a memorable experience.

Ideas and Innovation
star employee

Senior leadership meets twice a year to do organizational talent planning for every position from the top down. We talk about who are the potential high-performers, and go through how they can grow. People are your differentiator—you need to take care of your assets, and your assets are your human resources.

Industry News & Opinion

Students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will be served student-grown produce from the campus farm at dining halls this fall, M Live reports.

The dining team received its first batch of produce from UM’s on-campus farm in June, after students received the proper USDA certification to grow, harvest and deliver food to campus dining halls. In order to figure out what produce is needed, students communicate with the dining department weekly, and Michigan Dining purchases items accordingly.

"The students are involved from seed to plate," Executive Chef Frank Turchan...

Sponsored Content
college students eating

From Ovention.

Today’s colleges and universities know they should offer more than a large selection of breakfast cereals in the morning and chicken tenders at lunch to appeal to students. When it comes to what’s trending on campuses, here’s a look at what directors can tune into to boost engagement.

1. Expanded dining hours

Late-night options have long been a popular fixture on college campuses, but if it’s too late, students often choose to venture to off-campus retailers to satisfy their cravings. According to Technomic’s 2017 College & University Consumer Trend...

FSD Resources