Contract caterers’ second quarter sales up year-on-year as cost challenges bite

Contract caterers’ sales in the second quarter of 2023 finished 18.5% above the same period in 2022, the latest Contract Catering Tracker from CGA by NIQ and Bidfood reveals.

Another positive performing quarter reflects the sector’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and consumers’ bounding return to workplaces and venues served by contract caterers. Caterers’ sales in the private sector were also up 20.4% year-on-year.


However, these latest figures represent a drop in growth experienced in the first quarter of 2023, reaching 30%, recorded by the Tracker for the total market. With inflation and cost challenges affecting much of the sector and putting strain on trading conditions, growth is modest in real terms.


The tracker also shows the number of units served by contract caterers has increased by over 500 since June last year, and over 2,000 compared to the first quarter of 2023, as momentum continues to steadily build this year for the sector.


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 director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “The latest figures show contract caterers continue to steadily recover from the upheaval from COVID-19 restrictions and more recently economic and costs challenges facing the market. Demand for the sector remains high and the increasing number of outlets open for catering is positive; we are hopeful the positive trend to continue through the remainder of the year, but trading conditions will continue to remain challenging for some time.”


Debra Morrell, business development controller for B&I at Bidfood, said: “Yet again we’re seeing a positive picture in terms of growth of the B&I sector versus the same quarter last year. It’s fair to say that private sector catering is driving this somewhat, and that levels of year-on-year growth this quarter aren’t quite as high as they were the previous quarter, which could be an indication that cost of living challenges have been beginning to bite or that train, bus and underground strikes have had an impact on commuting. That being said, the picture is buoyant showing that consumers are resilient and continue to come into work. Demand for the sector is robust and its recovery from the pandemic continues.”


UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “These latest figures demonstrate really positive momentum in contract catering, with a significant uptick in the number of units being served by caterers as workplaces continue to ramp up the number of people returning to the office.


“The impact of inflation on real-terms growth is the other side of this debate, where growth is not accelerating at the same pace of sales. Clearly, food and drink inflation remaining at historic levels has a massive part to play and UKHospitality is continuing to press for action to tackle the high cost of doing business.”


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 and Sodexo UK.



About Bidfood:

As one of the UK’s leading foodservice providers, we share our customers’ passion for great food.

But our passion doesn’t stop there. We are also 100% dedicated to delivering service excellence to help our customers succeed and grow.


  • Our 13,000 strong product range includes the best of both own brand and leading foodservice brands.
  • Our 24 depots operating right across the UK allow us to offer a truly unique local service – and the majority of our depot teams are no more than 80 miles away from their customers.
  • We offer a comprehensive range of over 250 carefully selected wines, as well as beers, ciders and spirits.
  • We don’t stop at just food and drink.  We also provide a range of quality catering equipment, from cutlery to cookware, cleaning and disposables.


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