2012 B&I Census Report

B&I operators see few changes in 2011.

FoodService Director’s 2012 B&I Census is a snapshot of the business and industry market, based on information from the 2011 fiscal year, supplied by 50 B&I locations.

B&I Census highlights

  • The 50 B&I locations in our census averaged $1.77 million in food purchases in 2011 and $2.42 million in total foodservice purchases.
  • The locations in our census averaged $3.71 million in total foodservice sales in 2011. While some individual locations saw variations in their foodservice sales between 2010 and 2011, the average percent change for respondents as a whole was zero.
  • The mean food cost per meal in 2011 was $2.97, a 20-cent increase from 2010’s.
  • Seventy-two percent of this year’s respondents outsource their foodservice to contractors, with 13 management companies represented.
  • The majority of B&I locations in our census—29—are located in an office building in an urban area. Factory locations were second highest, at 12, followed by office buildings in a rural area, three, government, two, and plants, theme parks, conference centers and tech call centers all at one apiece.
  • Forty-one percent of meals served at B&I locations are consumed away from the dining room or cafeteria, the same as in 2010.  

Looking Ahead

Most B&I operators said they see total foodservice sales remaining the same for the rest of 2012. For those who foresee an increase, the average expected growth is 5%. For operators who predict a decline, the average anticipated drop is 7%. 

 

Surveying the customer base
The customer base for most B&I locations stayed the same between 2010 and 2011. In those locations where there were more customers, the average increase was 6%. For those whose customer base declined, the average decrease was 10%. How B&I locations’ customer base changed between 2010 and 2011:

Helping hand
Fifty-two percent of B&I locations have subsidized foodservice, with the average subsidy at 47%. Three companies in our census said their operations are completely subsidized. In the past year, operators report that their subsidy has:

Participation holding steady
Although daily meal counts at most B&I locations remained the same between 2010 and 2011, 26% saw an increase and 22% reported a decrease.

Facing challenges
A declining customer base was the most frequently cited challenge that B&I operators are facing. The most frequently cited challenges: 

Recession tactics
The majority of B&I operators in our census—66%—say they have made some kind of operational change to combat the recession. Those alterations include:

Buying local

The majority of B&I operators in our census—86%—purchase locally sourced products. 

Operators are most likely to buy produce and dairy from a nearby source; however, baked goods account for the highest percentage of a product category that is purchased locally.

 

Behind the numbers

A look at foodservice sales and tactics to combat the recession.

The average change in foodservice sales between 2010 and 2011 was zero for the 50 B&I operations in our survey. But not all the companies were that fortunate.

In addition, 66% of B&I locations in this year’s survey made changes to combat
the recession—not always successfully.

The largest decrease in foodservice sales was at TeleTech, in Englewood Colo. Bryan Swik, chef/manager with Eurest at the account, attributes that drop to a decline in customer base.

On the other end of the spectrum, The Ford Foundation, in New York, saw a 13% increase in foodservice sales. Erik Knies, foodservice director with Restaurant Associates at the account, says daily participation has increased. One reason for that is the foundation hired a new chef, which has enabled the foodservice department to offer action stations on Tuesday and Thursdays. Gyros, hot wraps and other entrées are made to order at the action station. Knies says the chef’s table has been popular with customers.

Another reason for the increase in sales was a changing customer base. “A lot of younger employees who are a little more adventurous in their tastes and have a little more food knowledge [have been hired]. They aren’t set in their ways,” Knies says. “We’ve tried to appeal to that. We also have a very diverse building population, with many different nationalities.”

One way Knies has tried to appeal to both the younger employees and the diversity in ethnic workers is to offer Restaurant Associate’s Global Street Foods by Marcus Samuelsson program. The concept features foods from 12 different regions and cultures, including Thailand and Vietnam.

Another factor to the foundation’s sales boost was a slight increase in prices.

Fighting the recession
TeleTech’s Swik says hours of operation have been reduced and more convenience-type products are being purchased. “We’ve tried to simplify a lot of our offerings into something that is a little more manageable for the staff to handle,” he says. “We have fewer options available in some cases,” especially in dessert offerings.

David Porter, corporate chef for Sodexo at Unilever Foods in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., also has had to reduce offerings to combat the recession. “Where we may have carried five or six varieties of something, we may have scaled back to three or four,” he says, “especially items that we were cooking from scratch.”

For example, Porter says the department used to make two different kinds of egg wraps—vegetarian and meat—for breakfast. Now he purchases one premade egg wrap. Porter’s staff also used to roast all turkey for sandwiches from scratch. Now he buys a precooked product. “It’s a good-quality product, but fresh-roasted turkey is the best,” he adds. “We’ve had to go to some processed items so we could free up our manpower and use it more efficiently.”

Another challenging area, Porter says, is that since the recession many manufacturers have cut back on their research and rollout of healthier products.
Porter does note that in the last couple of months things have been looking more positive. The customer base has increased slightly and more people are dining in house on a daily basis, something Porter admits might be because of the hot summer weather.

Dave Bear, manager of employee services at Ross Products in Columbus, Ohio, says his recession-beating tactic is to find new sales. Starting an office coffee program by placing 11 Douwe Egberts machines in his three locations has contributed more than $100,000 in new sales per year. The department also recently started accepting credit cards—something Bear admits is long overdue—and that service has also helped increase sales.

Bear also increased choices at his locations to keep more people dining in house. He added a deli station and more daily entrée options. “We’re going to have off-site competition no matter what,” he says. “Our larger location is near a very popular shopping area that has a lot of restaurants, so we’re going to lose customers to that. We try to do whatever we can to make us the first choice for dining. We try to provide the best quality that we can.”

In addition, Bear offers customers different price points, with the hope of first getting customers in the door because of the good deal and then getting them to purchase a higher priced item because the trust has been built.

“At the deli I’ve got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a dollar,” he explains. “You can combo that with a bag of chips and a small fountain [drink], so for $2.25 I can get you a lunch. I also have subs there for $4. Maybe I can get [customers] to walk in the door because they know I have stuff for a dollar, but then they say, ‘that sub looks good today.’ We try to grow our business based on trust.”

One challenging employee dining habit Bear faces is that many workers either eat at their desks or don’t take the time to eat lunch, so Bear has increased grab-and-go
offerings.

Another customer feeling Bear says he can’t compete against is the, “I just need to get away from work for a bit” sentiment.  

Download: 
PDF icon 2012_B&I_Census.pdf

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