The Future of Contract Catering

Aug 01, 2016 editor

With an array of changes going on in the world of contract catering we thought it best to document them, and look to what could happen in 2017!

2016 has already proven to be a turbulent year, with drastic political changes, a string of major celebrity events, and too many sporting competitions to comprehend. The world of catering, too, has steadily been changing. After reading a recent article published in Hospitality, we here at Red Box were inspired to write our own piece on the Future of Contract Catering.

One thing that is clearly apparent in 2016 is the merging of catering and facilities management. Growing closer over the years, the £4billion a year catering industry has had to adjust to this new competition slowly creeping up on it. Smaller firms who were already offering this combination of services are coming to the plate, however all British firms are feeling the pressure of international competition. Big names such as ISS and Serco are swooping in from overseas, and only time will tell what this holds for UK contract caterers, particularly the five giants of the industry; Aramark, Compass, Sodexo, Baxter Storey and Elior.

Another trend that we have seen altering the future of contract catering, and in fact the entire way we conduct our lifestyle, is the idea of healthy and sustainable eating. With changing ideas about what is good for us, and the increasing array of choice on the high street, contract catering companies are feeling the pressure to diversify and offer healthier and more “unique” options. This demand for fresher, organic produce, and diversity can also be seen in the education system. This means that contract caterers need to be constantly on the hunt for new solutions, organic and sustainable options.

"40% of school children want more interesting food in their school meals"

Santa Maria

2016 has seen the continued evolvement of social media, and it seems that no industry, no celebrity, and no politician is safe from its ever-growing clutches . The same can also be said for the world of contract catering. The big five are starting to employ specific people to monitor their social media accounts. Reviews, comments and questions from customers are important, and social media is becoming a quicker, and more personal way of getting to know and serve your customers. But its not just customer service where social media is being utilized, but also within the workplace. Not only is it important to keep a track of what your workforce are saying about their company, but also how they interact with other people in the industry, and how they feel about the catering and facilities management within their own workplace.

There are some big changes already occurring within the world of contract catering, it’s hard to say what else the future may hold. The three big changes to note are; the merging of the facilities management and catering, the rise of social media and how this affects our interaction with customers and our workforce, and the demand for more diversified, and high quality options. Currently big names like Compass and Sodexo are still in control, however rapidly growing Baxter Storey could shake things up over the coming years. Hopefully the future remains bright for smaller companies too, with the trend of bigger companies buying them out declining into 2016.