Study: Office Breakfast And Dinner Catering Rises Despite Recession

Sept. 16, 2011

Few restaurants and caterers would be surprised to hear that catering orders for business and medical offices slipped during the economic downturn of the past three years. But what may be surprising is that breakfast and dinner catering usage is up noticeably since 2007, according to Technomic's recently-updated study, Large Orders Off-Premise (LOOP).

One in five (19 percent of) surveyed business and medical users ordered breakfast catering at least once a week, compared to 13 percent in 2007. Dinner usage also increased, with 26 percent of those surveyed saying they order catered-in dinners at work at least monthly, up from 18 percent four years ago.

"We learned that breakfast occasions are growing due to meeting time-shifting and lower costs. Dinner occasions, on the other hand, are growing because employees are being asked to work late, and some employers provide dinner to help ease the pain of longer days," said Melissa Wilson, Technomic principal, in a prepared statement.

Wilson points out that more catered breakfast and dinner occasions spells new opportunities for some restaurant chains to step into office and medical catering, segments that used to be the nearly exclusive domain of lunch-time meal providers.

The study updates research conducted in 2007. Among other interesting findings:

  • The average group size for business and medical catering orders has remained steady at 19 to 20 people. However, cut-backs have occurred in average per-person expenditures since 2007.
  • Catering decision-makers acknowledge that incentives have grown in importance, as a way to stretch their catering budgets. While all types of incentives have increased in importance, coupons gained the most influence.
  • Retailers, especially warehouse clubs, are competing effectively with restaurants for business and medical catering occasions. One in five survey respondents reported using a warehouse club in the past 60 days for a business catering occasion.

The study is based on primary research with over 1,200 decision-makers in the business and medical markets. It provides insights on driving motivations in selecting catering suppliers, as well as details on frequency and expenditures, menu offering preferences, effective marketing techniques and more.

The study also includes a special survey of physicians who attend pharmaceutical industry-sponsored events to assess the impact of healthcare reform (the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act) on catering business in the medical-market segment.

In addition to this current study's comprehensive analysis of catering opportunities in the business and medical markets, Technomic is planning to update a companion study on consumer catering opportunities. To learn more about Technomic's research in the catering segment, contact Melissa Wilson at 312-876-0004, extension 3707, or visit [email protected].