Contract caterers’ third-quarter sales up year-on-year, but significantly lag pre-COVID levels

Third-quarter sales at leading contract caterers grew by half from 2020 levels as the sector continues its recovery from the pandemic, new research from CGA reveals.

The latest edition of the Contract Caterer Tracker shows sales from July to September 2021 were up by 52% on the same three months in 2020—a period when many venues served by caterers were under substantial restrictions.


However, the Tracker also indicates a 36% drop in third-quarter sales from the same period in 2019, when businesses were trading as normal. It shows contract caterers continue to suffer from the effects of national lockdowns and the drop in footfall in workplaces and sectors like leisure and live events. On a month-by-month basis, there were signs of some improvement between sales in July (down 38% on 2019) and September 2021 (down 29%).


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: “These figures show the scale of the COVID after-shocks that contract caterers are dealing with.

While it’s pleasing to see a revival in sales since last summer, this is from very low comparatives, and the 36% shortfall from 2019 is a more realistic measure of the challenges faced by contract caterers. Demand will build in due course, but with many people continuing to work from home or cautious about returning to crowded spaces, and supply, recruitment and cost issues mounting, the sector will be under pressure for some time to come.”


The Contract Catering Tracker complements CGA’s suite of market measurement services, which include the CGA Coffer 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 and Sodexo UK.


Anyone interested in joining the Tracker should contact Nikolaos Xypolitos at

Recent posts:

Share post


Subscribe to our newsletter

Access the latest On Premise news and reports by signing up below.