Contract caterers’ sales in the second quarter of 2023 finished 18.5% above the same period in 2022, the latest Contract Catering Tracker from CGA by NIQ and Bidfood reveals.
Another positive performing quarter reflects the sector’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and consumers’ bounding return to workplaces and venues served by contract caterers. Caterers’ sales in the private sector were also up 20.4% year-on-year.
However, these latest figures represent a drop in growth experienced in the first quarter of 2023, reaching 30%, recorded by the Tracker for the total market. With inflation and cost challenges affecting much of the sector and putting strain on trading conditions, growth is modest in real terms.
The tracker also shows the number of units served by contract caterers has increased by over 500 since June last year, and over 2,000 compared to the first quarter of 2023, as momentum continues to steadily build this year for the sector.
Karl Chessell, CGA’s director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “The latest figures show contract caterers continue to steadily recover from the upheaval from COVID-19 restrictions and more recently economic and costs challenges facing the market. Demand for the sector remains high and the increasing number of outlets open for catering is positive; we are hopeful the positive trend to continue through the remainder of the year, but trading conditions will continue to remain challenging for some time.”
Debra Morrell, business development controller for B&I at Bidfood, said: “Yet again we’re seeing a positive picture in terms of growth of the B&I sector versus the same quarter last year. It’s fair to say that private sector catering is driving this somewhat, and that levels of year-on-year growth this quarter aren’t quite as high as they were the previous quarter, which could be an indication that cost of living challenges have been beginning to bite or that train, bus and underground strikes have had an impact on commuting. That being said, the picture is buoyant showing that consumers are resilient and continue to come into work. Demand for the sector is robust and its recovery from the pandemic continues.”
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These latest figures demonstrate really positive momentum in contract catering, with a significant uptick in the number of units being served by caterers as workplaces continue to ramp up the number of people returning to the office.
“The impact of inflation on real-terms growth is the other side of this debate, where growth is not accelerating at the same pace of sales. Clearly, food and drink inflation remaining at historic levels has a massive part to play and UKHospitality is continuing to press for action to tackle the high cost of doing business.”
CGA’s Contract Catering Tracker aggregates sales from leading operators to provide quarterly reports with year-on-year analysis. It offers businesses a valuable benchmarking tool to measure performance across various metrics and market groupings, and participants in the Tracker receive additional analysis in return for their contributions.
CGA’s partners on the Contract Catering Tracker include: ABM Catering, Artizian Catering Services, Bartlett Mitchell, BaxterStorey, Blue Apple Contract Catering, CH&CO, Compass UK, Elior UK, The Genuine Dining Co., Graysons, Harrison Catering Services and Sodexo UK.