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.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
quinoa bowl

In a time of growing health consciousness, it might not be enough anymore for food to be merely filling. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , diners are looking for food with a function, such as those with high protein content, immunity-boosting properties, antioxidants, probiotics and more. The data suggests 63% of consumers see these foods as healthier than those without any specific nutritional function—and would be more likely to buy them.

But are those stated preferences translating on an operational level? There, the answer is less clear. Baby...

Ideas and Innovation
phone bed call sick

We make people call and directly talk to their boss or supervisor if they are reporting an absence for a shift. While it is more cumbersome, it is a conscious decision. We have adapted and implemented electronic methods to obtain efficiencies in just about every other functional area, except for electronic absence reporting systems. The direct supervisor can put more pressure on an employee to show up—especially those with some form of the “Super Bowl plague”—than any electronic system can.

Menu Development
ranch dressing chicken fingers

While salad bars are often the first place K-12 operators look to incorporate more fresh produce, few go as far as making their own salad dressings. But last fall, in a continuing effort to transition from prepackaged meals to an all-scratch menu, Mark Augustine, executive chef of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools, switched to concocting four varieties in-house—ranch, Caesar, Italian and Asian vinaigrette. The move, designed to eliminate artificial ingredients and lower fat and sodium, presented the biggest challenge when it came to ranch dressing, the school-...

Ideas and Innovation
business card

We get the new folks abridged business cards saying, “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work in nutrition department.” We thought it would give them more ownership of the program and elevate their status and position in the organization. It also gives our team more self-confidence and self-worth as an employee, which can be a challenge with foodservice workers.

FSD Resources