FSD 2008 Catering Study

Innovation and diversification could be key to non-commercial caterers surviving 2009.

The 2008 Catering Survey: With these comments as a backdrop, FSD presents its 2008 Catering Survey, begining with a snapshot of the survey respondents. The largest percentage of responders, 27%, were schools. Another 24% came from hospitals, 20% were from colleges and universities, 14% from long-term care and 12% from B&I or contract management headquarters. Demographically, 35% of respondents hail from the Midwest, 29% from the South, 21% from the Northeast and 15% from the West. 

Seventy-nine percent of respondents offer catering: 45% of them report less than $100,000 in annual catering revenue, 29% have revenue between $100,000 and $499,000, and 26% have more than $500,000 a year in catering business. The average revenue among our respondents is $507,818.

Fifty-three percent generate all of their revenue from within the confines of their institution or company, while 44% offer their services both on- and off-premise. Of all respondents, only 3% operate off-premise catering exclusively.

As a percentage of business, 19% of respondents said catering represents only 1-2% of total revenue. Another 18% said it makes up 3-5% of revenue, and the largest percentage, 23% said it represents 6-10% of all foodservice business. For another 18%, the figure is 11-20%, for 11% it is 21-30% and 8% said it represents more than 30% of business.

In all markets except long-term care, operators who have exclusive rights to catering are a minority, with the industry average being 39%. Sixty-five percent of operators in long-term care say they are the only caterer allowed in their facilities. In colleges, that figure is 46%, in hospitals it is 45%, in B&I/contractors it is 27% and in schools the number is 26%.  

Colleges and universities (60%) are most likely to conduct business both on and off campus, while long-term care operators are least likely (35%). Among operators who offer both, more than three-quarters of revenue is generated by on-premise events. Two-thirds of respondents say they charge more to cater off-premise events. Colleges/universities and hospitals  most often charge a premium, at 76% each, while only half of schools and 40% of B&I/contractors do. The upcharge is usually up to 20%; only 20% of operators charge more than that.

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