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.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

Ideas and Innovation
kale quinoa salad

With all the hype around probiotics, we decided to create a daily dish that incorporates probiotics in addition to prebiotics. You rarely hear about prebiotics, and this was a great way to highlight how the two work synergistically to maintain a healthy gut. Our chefs have developed menu items such as roasted salmon with yogurt and mint vinaigrette; kale and quinoa salad with warm maple dressing; and leek soup with pickled cucumbers, to name a few.

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