Contract catering year-on-year sales down on 2019 levels in second quarter as cost pressures mount

Sales in the contract catering sector remain below pre-COVID-19 levels, though slow but steady growth is being seen, new research from CGA by NielsenIQ and Bidfood’s Contract Tracker reveals.

The latest edition of the Tracker demonstrates that April to June 2022 sales were 56% up on the second quarter of 2021, when lockdown restrictions remained in place for the majority of the period.


However, sales are 11.5% below the second quarter of 2019. The deficit reflects the extent to which contract catering venues have been lost during and since COVID-19. The Tracker denotes that there are now 1,116 fewer units for caterers to serve than there was this time three years ago, as inflation and rising costs are impacting spending. In addition, it’s indicative of lower footfall at venues, despite an almost complete easing of consumer hesitancy.


There are causes for optimism that consumer confidence is returning. Comparison with 2019 data shows three-year sales at -11.5% in the second quarter of 2022. This marks a steady upward trajectory from -20% in the first quarter of 2022 and -26% in the fourth quarter of 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 director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “Despite a complete return to the ‘new normal’, the Tracker shows that the contract catering sector continues to lag-behind. Recent working from home and hybrid working models are a contributory factor, alongside inflation concerns that are causing businesses and consumers to tighten their belts. But there’s progressively been less loss of units and sales in three consecutive quarters now, indicating a slow but steady return of confidence in the sector.”


Debra Morrell, Business Development Controller for B&I at Bidfood, said: “Despite the contract catering market continuing to be badly impacted by the changing behaviours of people as a result of COVID-19, it’s great to see positive signs that businesses are recovering over time.


The market has shown relentless adaptability through solutions via innovation to deal with the numerous challenges faced, showing just how strong the contract catering market is across the board.”


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 pub, bar and restaurant 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, 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


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.


For more information, visit

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