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
leftovers containers

We use our Menu Forward idea to empower staff to develop menu items and keep leftovers in check. Product left at the end of service may be claimed by any station to become part of a new item within six weeks. I’m happy to see my star team fighting for their ideas and products; the benefit to food cost is spot-on, and my freezer has no mystery items lurking in the corner.

Menu Development
muse school produce

Kayla Webb, executive chef at Muse School, has transitioned the private K-12 day school in Calabasas, Calif., to an entirely vegan menu over a three-year period. Webb talks about her menuing, and how the school’s kitchen earned the title of “greenest restaurant in the world” from the Green Restaurant Association.

Q: How did you help parents get used to the idea of an all plant-based diet?

A: The first year, we didn’t announce it. We were just serving one plant-based meal a week, so it wasn’t that drastic. We do monthly Muse Talks where we invite different speakers to our school to...

Ideas and Innovation
food allergy

When potential students come to campus, we match them with a student from our allergy support group for a tour of our dining facilities. The ambassador helps the potential student to understand how they navigated campus with their food allergy. This showcases what we do for allergies on campus, and is a highly successful way to make the students feel good about dining.

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce dirt

Savor at McCormick Place developed the Green Thumb brand for menu items and products featuring its rooftop bounty; the latest is a pale ale made with the first crop of hops grown on the roof. Promoting that branding and the convention center’s green certification has brought in business from groups with a sustainability focus.

FSD Resources