Earlier this month City AM ran an article exploring how eating habits are changing in our nation’s capital.
There were some insightful and interesting points made, but we have to question what that article said about contract catering. It’s true that our industry has changed massively over the years, but can you think of an industry that hasn’t?
Of course, the cheesy chips and the bacon rolls have been replaced by quinoa and avocados, and the sheer scale of our offerings has exploded, but this is a sign of adaptability and evolution.
Printers have faced, and will continue to face, challenges from Kindles, tablets and the internet. CDs, VCRs, taxis and countless other hallmarks of life in London have had their hegemony threatened in recent years. Some of these giants will lose their battle, others will change, and change for the better, in order to survive.
In the recent CityAM article we heard about the rise of City Pantry, a company which ‘connects caterers to businesses, delivering food en-masse for corporate events and meetings.’ There are some really interesting aspects to what City Pantry, and similar firms, are doing, but there are downsides as well. Organisations might get more variety from these sorts of offerings, but there is a risk that they will struggle to meet demand if they scale quickly.
The likes of City Pantry and takeaways are competition and this competition is not necessarily a bad thing. It forces us to adjust and improve means a better service for all of our customers, but it isn’t contract caterers who are really threatened by this trend.
Everyone has read about the pressure many highstreet restaurants are already under, with market saturation, economic uncertainty and changing eating habits just some of the factors leading to closure after closure. These days contract caterers need to be a master of all trades – lunch, coffee, fine dining.
Of course we understand that the office restaurant or café isn’t what all organisations are looking for anymore. Companies are eschewing desks, offices, gendered toilets. There are people now in work that wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to use a fax machine, dream of looking something up in an actual dictionary, or believe that smoking was once ubiquitous in offices. Why would the traditional staff restaurant have some sort of traditional status in such a fast changing world?
But there is absolutely a market for contract catering, indeed the sector as a whole is growing. Contract caterers offer added value that other sorts of food providers often cannot, from the high levels of customer satisfaction as a result of highly engageds employees to agility and ability to scale.
We are working in partnership with clients to navigate shifting sands in order to define and deliver catering strategies which are future proof and fit for purpose.