FSD’s 2010 Catering Survey

Catering volume was down dramatically last year, according to respondents, but business is looking up in B&I.
  •  Among our 276 respondents, 82% offer catering. Virtually everyone in B&I and colleges provides this service, while 94% of hospitals, 74% of schools and 68% of long-term care facilities do.
  • What operators offer runs the gamut from continental breakfasts to sit-down banquets. Breakfasts are handled by 88% of operators, buffet lunches by 84%, coffee/snack breaks by 83%, hot and cold buffet meals by 79%, box lunches by 78%, plated sit-down meals by 73% and cocktail receptions by 39%.
  • Of the operators who say they offer catering, 37% of operators surveyed say they handle both on- and off-premise events. Most (61%) offer catering only on premises, while only 2% handle only off-premise events. For those operators who do both, 79% of business on average is on-premise, and 49% charge off-premise customers more than they do on-premise. Of those that do upcharge, the largest percentage (46%) add 10% or less.Catering revenue dropped dramatically last year. Survey respondents reported, on average, $296,000 in revenue, compared with $511,000 the previous year. B&I reported an average of $1.06 million in revenue, followed by colleges (with $733,000), hospitals (with $135,000), schools (with $44,000) and long-term care (with $35,000).
  • Business appeared to be most promising in the B&I sector, a complete reversal of the previous year, as 64% of these operators reported that their revenue increased last year. In 2009, 50% of B&I operators reported that revenue had declined. Overall, 31% of operators reported an increase in revenue, 26% reported a decrease and 43% said revenue was static.Overall, catering business is fairly balanced between full-service (54%) and drop-off (46%). In long-term care facilities, business is most likely to be full-service (70%), while in B&I it is more likely to be drop-off (66%).
  • Catering remains a small portion of an institution’s overall foodservice revenue; only 5% said it represents more than 30% of total business, while 70% said it makes up 10% or less. Catering is more likely to comprise a larger chunk of business in B&I; 64% of operators said it represents more than 10% of total revenue. Conversely, 73% of schools, and 62% of long-term care facilities said catering comprises 5% or less of total revenue.
  • Special events, such as weddings and bar mitzvahs, tend to be pricier in B&I operations and on college campuses. The average per-person price for such events was $21.21 in B&I and $20.62 in colleges. By comparison, it was $13.18 in long-term care, $9.67 in hospitals and only $7.67 in schools. In fact, dinners and banquets generated a higher check average in schools and hospitals; $8.25  and $10.66, respectively.
  • The majority of operators reported that they face competition from outside caterers, as only 46% of respondents said they have an exclusive on catering in their facilities. Colleges (65%) and long-term facilities (51%) are more likely to be the only game on campus, while schools (64%) and B&I operators (57%) are more likely to have to fend off outside caterers. Generally, the larger the catering department, the more likely it is to have exclusive rights; 58% of operators with annual catering revenue of $500,000 or more have exclusivity, while only 42% of operators with revenue of less than $100,000 do.
  • Colleges (68%) are most likely to offer catering customers the option of using environmentally friendly serviceware, and they are also the least likely to charge customers extra for doing so—only 22% upcharge. By comparison, 42% of schools, 40% of B&I, 37% of hospitals and 25% of long-term care facilities add a surcharge.

    2011 Catering Survey: Where Business Comes From


    2010 FSD Catering Survey: Environment


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