Contract caterers’ sales rise 69% in the second quarter, but sales still 38% down on annual basis

Sales in the contract catering sector grew by more than two thirds in the second quarter of 2021 as the sector continues its recovery from COVID-19 lockdowns, exclusive research from CGA reveals.

The latest edition of the Contract Catering Tracker shows sales from April to June 2021 were up by 69% on the same three months in 2020, when the UK moved into a full national lockdown. Year-on-year sales growth grew at a higher pace from April into May and June — months in 2020 when the majority of venues served by contract caterers, like schools, universities, offices and sporting venues, were closed.


On a rolling 12-month basis, sales in the year to end-June were 38% below the previous 12 months. This demonstrates the huge impact of on-off closures of private and public sector spaces on the contract catering sector over 2020 and 2021.


CGA’s Contract Catering Tracker aggregates sales from leading operators to provide quarterly reports with year-on-year analysis. It offers businesses a valuable benchmarking tool to measure performance across various metrics and market groupings, and participants in the Tracker receive additional analysis in return for their contributions.


Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “After a devastating 2020 and early 2021, these numbers are encouraging signs that the contract catering sector’s recovery is underway. With many people continuing to work from home, it may be some time before sales get back to pre-COVID-19 levels, but the gradual return of education, leisure, and event catering over the second quarter has been a positive start. As is the case in hospitality, the pandemic has reminded us just how much consumers and organisations value contract caterers. Significant operational challenges remain, especially in recruitment and distribution, but we can be optimistic that demand will continue to pick up over the rest of 2021.”


The Contract Catering Tracker complements CGA’s suite of market measurement services, which include the Coffer CGA Business Tracker, which monitors sales at the UK’s leading managed restaurant, pub and bar groups; and the Hospitality at Home Tracker, which reports data from the delivery and takeaway sector.


CGA’s partners on the Contract Catering Tracker include: ABM Catering, Artizian Catering Services, Bartlett Mitchell, BaxterStorey, Blue Apple Contract Catering, CH&CO, Compass UK, Elior UK, The Genuine Dining Co., Graysons, Harrison Catering Services, Sodexo UK and Vacherin.


Anyone interested in joining the Tracker should contact Nikolaos Xypolitos at

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