Catering continues to be big business for restaurants; as a group, they capture almost five times the revenue of retailers for off-site events—$19.3 billion annually versus $4.0 billion, reports Technomic’s recent Parties Off Premise study.
While several market segments are projecting three-year compound annual growth rates (CAGR) tallying 5 percent or better, fast casuals are poised to outperform all other players, with an anticipated growth rate of 12 percent. Quickservice sandwich spots follow, with a CAGR of 8 percent, and club stores have a projected growth rate of 7 percent.
“Improvements in food quality, especially at fast-casual and fast-food chains, appear to be a significant factor in restaurants’ recent gains with catering consumers,” says Melissa Wilson, principal and director of the Parties Off Premise (POP) study. Limited- and full-service restaurants hold the largest shares of this market (36 and 34 percent, respectively) and appear to be taking share from independent caterers and retail foodservice operators, says Wilson.
- At $27.5 billion, the size of the consumer catering opportunity is significantly larger than similar opportunities with business-to-business users (corporate/pharmaceutical representatives), estimated at $15.8 billion.
- More than a third (36 percent) of surveyed consumers expect to entertain at home more often over the next year, while only 5 percent say they will scale back.
- Twenty percent of surveyed consumers would now consider quickservice restaurants as a source for at-home catered occasions, compared to just 7 percent in 2009. In contrast, warehouse clubs have slipped 7 percentage points in shoppers' minds, from 26 percent in 2009 to 19 percent.
- Social catering occasions can provide a consistent stream of business from core customers. While seasonal peaks are evident for specific occasions, the majority of users average more than two of these purchases each month.