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

Industry News & Opinion

The University of New Mexico’s proposed on-campus taproom has officially been approved by the school’s Board of Regents.

Construction on the $650,000 student union taproom will begin this summer and is expected to finish in August when students return to campus. The school’s food vendor, Chartwells, and UNM’s Dining & Food Services department will split the cost of the taproom evenly.

Designed by students in the school’s architecture department, the space will feature a rotating selection of beer and wine, and will also welcome guest brewers. Chartwells will be...

Ideas and Innovation
cafeteria

Three years ago, Colonial School District in New Castle, Del., started a pilot supper program at its high school. The goal: To make sure the district’s students, 57% of whom are on free or reduced-priced meals, would not be hungry when school is done for the day.

Since its inception, the program has expanded to 12 schools and now provides afterschool meals to children participating in YMCA activities. And it's just one of many such programs popping up in districts throughout the country, as operators add supper to the list of daily meals they provide for students.

Building...
Ideas and Innovation
hydroponics

We put our hydroponic gardens in a spot where students can watch them grow, but at the same time it’s safe from being tampered with. At one of our elementary schools, the gardens are in the kitchen, but there’s a window where students can look in as they walk down the hallway. Some even stop to count how many cucumbers they see.

Ideas and Innovation
food snap

We started a 50-member vegan team in response to students expressing the need for more vegan options. Between our monthly meetings, students are asked to take photos of foods they eat in and out of the dining halls to give us a true picture of the kinds of things they like and the kinds of foods that cause disappointment. This exercise has sparked a lot of conversation and given us more insight into what we could do better.

FSD Resources