In comparison to the overall respondent base, more dedicated OCS operators added staff (15 percent compared to 14.5 percent) while only 30 percent reduced staff.
Operators offered mixed views on the importance of environmental benefits. Some claim customers are interested in these benefits, while others claim customers are not willing to pay additional costs for them.
OCS OPERATORS ADDRESS ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS
Dedicated OCS operators were more active in offering environmental benefits than vending operators with OCS operations in 2008/2009. Sixty percent of dedicated OCS operators added products to address environmental concerns compared to 45 percent of all respondents.
Environment-enhancing products include recycled products (cups, filters, pods and utensils), water filtration devices to reduce single-serve bottled water, and coffee with sustainability features (organic, Fair Trade, or bird friendly).
Sustainability is one of the benefits of the coffee pods that have been on the market for several years. Pod-based systems were introduced as an economic alternative to cartridge-based single-cup systems and also offered sustainable coffee packaging.
Many operators are reconsidering pods as an economic alternative to cartridge and hopper systems. Pods offer the product variety of cartridges and cost less. In addition, an operator can source pods from a variety of roasters, whereas with cartridges, he can’t.
Many operators believe that environmental benefits will become more important when the economy improves and customers become less concerned about costs.
APPRECIATION FOR GOOD COFFEE REMAINS STRONG
Helping operators argue their case for providing good quality coffee is the fact that consumer appreciation for the product remains strong, according to consumer research.
Daily consumption of coffee beverages among consumers remained consistent in 2009 with 54 percent of the overall adult population partaking, according to the National Coffee Association (NCA) 2009 National Coffee Drinking Trends survey. This is statistically on par with the 2008 figure.
Additionally, cups-per-drinker and cups-per-capita continued to hold at the level from 2008 and the previous four years. The NCA reported the number of consumers who drink coffee at work remained consistent at 18 percent, while fewer are partaking in restaurants (5 percent) than in 2008 (8 percent).
If the economy does improve, OCS operators will find a stronger demand for their services, and the positive sales trend of the previous four years will return.
In the meantime, OCS operators must continue to invest in their staffs and their products and equipment. The retail coffee environment has become more competitive than ever, with retail and foodservice operators competing more aggressively for consumer coffee sales.
About the survey
The State of the Coffee Service Industry Report is based on the results of a questionnaire emailed to 600 dedicated OCS operators and 2,700 vending operators with OCS operations.