The 5 Key Challenges Facing the Catering Industry
The catering industry is one of the most exciting — and competitive — sectors worldwide. It sees constant growth and innovation, encompassing a range of companies, consumers and services.
That is why the catering industry is almost constantly presented with challenges. In this year alone, issues such as Brexit, dietary constraints, sustainability concerns and more have forced the industry to adapt.
Below, we take a look at some of the key challenges and concerns currently facing the catering industry — and some solutions for meeting them too.
1) Budget Constraints
High rental prices, living wages, and rising food costs often place enormous strain on the budgets of catering businesses — and it can be the smaller, independent businesses that suffer.
There is also arguably more choice than ever before, making it increasingly difficult to catch the eye of the customer and ensure a steady flow of business.
Along with the expected costs such as rental of premises, equipment, wages, and produce, there can also be more unpredictable costs going forward.
Perhaps you decide you need to invest in more training for your staff, hire more people than expected, purchase workforce management software, or use online marketing and social media. Tools and equipment can also break down and need to be replaced at short notice.
Many catering businesses are looking at smart, effective ways to keep things cost-effective. New catering equipment can be prohibitively expensive, for example, so catering companies trust experienced providers like us to stock fully refurbished, affordable catering equipment.
It is also crucial to have money-saving systems in place such as effective storage, regular maintenance, and reduction of wasted ingredients.
2) Specialised Diets
There has been a rapid increase in the demand for food that meets specialised diet requirements. This can be due to allergies such as to lactose, wheat, gluten, or shellfish. It can also be motivated by ethical or environmental concerns.
There is a growing number of consumers who wish to know the provenance of their food and whether the ingredients are locally traceable — as well as sustainable.
Not only does this place pressure on the catering company from the point of view of budget, it can also mean that food and menus must be carefully and correctly labelled.
A solution for this is not easy to achieve overnight. But many catering companies are starting slowly, aiming to improve the choice — and transparency — of their menus overall.
In cities especially, space can come at a serious premium. Rental prices are soaring. Many catering companies are finding that operating out of a permanent residence is not financially possible for them.
This has led to an increase in the number of catering companies who are operating as street vendors — at markets, events, or in regular vans, for example.
For catering companies who are operating out of a more permanent or rented premises, space is still a serious concern.
Managing your space effectively should be a priority, whatever the location of your catering business. Effectively managed space means better safety, smoother movement for your team, and speedier service too.
Not only must walkways, entrances and exits be clear, but staying on top of waste is vital too. Faulty or irreparable equipment should be removed, for example, but it is not always convenient or safe to attempt on your own.
Reputable companies such as our friendly team, for example, can also provide a catering equipment removal service to ensure that your space is safe, uncluttered, and ready for a busy service.
4) Brand Consistency
In such a connected digital age, marketing and social media are becoming increasingly crucial for staying visible and competitive.
In the catering industry, brand consistency can be a huge challenge.
Perhaps your menu no longer reflects your environmental concerns or your customer base, for example, or your Instagram page gets more traffic than your website, but you put more energy into updating the latter.
Staying consistent and ‘on brand’ can require hiring a marketing or social media professional. But if in doubt, aim to keep your media presence simple, manageable, and always up to date — whatever platform you choose.
5) Waste Management
Sustainable choices in both ingredients and equipment are becoming increasingly sought after by catering companies and their customers alike. Waste management is thought to lead to a healthier business, and a healthier planet.
Managing waste is not crucial from a hygiene perspective, but it can be one of the biggest areas of budgetary waste too.
Effective inventory taking, storage solutions that preserve your ingredients, and safe removal of equipment are some of the best ways to meet the challenge.