Mass Catering Faces a Buoyant but Challenging Future

It seems that the mass catering business is in for an exciting time over the next few years.

By 2020, according to the pundits, we’ll all be eating out much more – some of us every day; we’ll be eating healthier food influenced by global cuisines; our ageing parents and grandparents will become the big spenders that all eateries will want to attract; and we’ll be much less tolerant of poor quality food and service.

This is the view of 100 industry experts interviewed for the Foodservice Consultants Society International and Allegra Strategies’ ‘Taste of the Future 2020’ report, which has just been published. The aim was to understand what the industry thought the foodservice sector would look like at the end of this decade. The participants included suppliers, consultants, contract caterers and catering service providers from the public sector as well as branded retail and leisure outlets.

Tapas and Sushi

It seems that we will be eating a lot more South East Asian, Mediterranean and Nordic influenced food while steak will give way to premium chicken, fish and seafood. Other victims of this anticipated shift in the nation’s taste will be burgers, pizzas, fried chicken as well as Indian and Chinese takeaways. Instead of a kebab and chips, a late night hunger stop might include tapas and sushi.

The experts felt that higher food input costs will make cost control a critical issue for the catering industry and that pressure from consumers for higher quality food and service will fire up competition. One of the biggest problems facing mass catering businesses though will be a shortage of skilled staff – to the extent that it may stunt market growth as we enter the next decade.


But what about the immediate future? Visit England, our national tourist board, is forecasting a massive year for tourism in 2014.

Simon Gidman, who is head of business visits and events there, said: “With a spate of world-class (sporting) tournaments on the horizon, a flood of unique venues opening their doors to the corporate market and a wave of events spaces taking delegates back to nature, VisitEngland predicts that sport, unusual venues and conferences in trees will all have an influence on the meetings and incentives industry next year.”

The treetop conferencing was a reference to treehouse-inspired conference facility at Bowcliffe Hall in Leeds. Britain also hosts the start of the Tour de France next year, we’ll be celebrating Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, opening the South Park of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, and the £4 million Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester and there will be major events throughout the year to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

Alongside all of this, VisitEngland also predicts a rise in Poshtels and Gastrotels. Just in case we’ve lost you there, a Poshtel is the latest thing in up-market hostels. Instead of a bunk bed with a straw mattress, a communal kitchen and a shared loo that’s down the hall and up the stairs, you get an en-suite bedroom with TV and tea/coffee plus a continental breakfast. All from about £20 a night.

The Gastrotel is, as the name suggests, more geared to foodies than to hoodies. According to VisitEngland, we are becoming a nation of gastronomes with the result that gastronomic hotels are more popular than ever. Apparently we made 13 million day visits to food festivals or farmers markets last year and twice as many of us plan to go to a food festival on our next holiday.

Published Date: 26th November 2013
Category: Blog, Catering Business, News

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