FSD 2008 Catering Study

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

Business up or down?:  Half of our respondents said their catering business increased in the last fiscal year, and only 18% reported a decrease, with the rest saying business remained steady. The major reasons for increased business were more catered events (76%) and increased customer satisfaction (73%). Other reasons given were increase in customer base (37%), menu changes (32%) and better marketing/promotion (18%).

Among operators who reported a decline in business, most (76%) cited budget cuts. Another possibly related reason given was fewer events to cater (33%). A decrease in customer base was given by 12% of respondents, and facility issues were named by 7%.

When it comes to the environment, with the exception of colleges and universities, environmentally friendly disposables have yet to become an option for most. Sixty-three percent of college operators make such serviceware available, but only 19% of hospitals do. Forty-two percent of B&I/contractors offer such biodegradable or compostable service items, as do 40% of long-term care operators and 35% of school operators. But among operators who do offer them, the option is provided by most as a value-added service. Only 28% of operators charge extra for environmentally friendly serviceware.

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University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

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gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

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Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

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Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

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