Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 12,500 caterers in the US provide food and beverage services for a variety of events, including weddings, parties, luncheons, and trade shows. Additional services include equipment (tables, chairs, dinnerware) rental, floral/centerpiece design, and event planning/design. Weddings account for slightly more than half of industry revenue, corporate events are about a quarter, and social events are 20%.

Competition from Alternative Sources

Caterers compete with a variety of alternative sources, including restaurants and food retailers, such as warehouse clubs and grocery stores.

Seasonal, Uneven Demand

Demand for catering services can be seasonal and uneven, driven by holiday events and special occasions.

Industry size & Structure

The average caterer operates out of a single location, employs 17 workers, and generates about one million dollars annually.

    • The catering industry consists of about 12,500 companies, employs about 213,000 workers, and generates about $12.5 billion annually.
    • The industry is highly fragmented; the top 50 firms account for 15% of industry sales.
    • Some large restaurant chains offer catering services.
                                    Industry Forecast
                                    Caterers Industry Growth
                                    Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                    Recent Developments

                                    Jul 4, 2024 - Caterers Staffing Up
                                    • Caterers are in hiring mode, with employment rising 13.1% in April compared to a year ago after climbing 13.6% year over year in March, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, average industry wages rose 2.4% year over year in April to $22.71 per hour, BLS data shows. Sales for the US caterers industry are forecast to grow at a 5.67% compounded annual rate from 2024 to 2028, faster than the growth of the overall economy, according to the Interindustry Economic Research Fund.
                                    • An increase in order frequency and new use cases are providing more opportunities for restaurant catering, according to ezCater’s 2024 Feeding the Workplace Report. The latest ezCater data shows that 53% of corporate food buyers plan to increase their spending on catered meals this year. As food-at-work stages a strong comeback, the report finds that companies are exploring new use cases, like grab-and-go bites, food trucks, and recurring meals, beyond providing food for meetings and holiday parties. Organizations are ordering meals more frequently and making food an integral part of office life, according to ezCater data. The report also found a 32% year-over-year increase in daily and weekly employee meal programs, and nearly two-thirds of surveyed eaters prefer individually packaged meals, while a third want meals that address their dietary preferences. All this is great news for restaurants and catering firms, as more orders mean more opportunities to boost sales.
                                    • Caterers that serve liquor at events face increasing risk and the cost of protecting against it, according to Catering, Foodservice & Events (CF&E). Violations of state Dram Shop Laws – which hold establishments liable for any damages that result from their serving of alcohol to a patron who is obviously intoxicated or underage – have led to huge judgments, so having adequate liquor liability insurance is a necessity. However, such insurance can be expensive and hard to get, CF&E warned in an article cataloging risks facing the catering industry in 2024, noting that a bar owner in South Carolina reported that his liquor liability costs skyrocketed from $5,000 to $60,000 in only three years. Mitigating the risk of Dram Shop Law violations requires an updated and documented training program to ensure employees understand the risks of over-serving, with training that underscores best practices in bar management, CF&E recommends.
                                    • The average cost of a wedding in the US rose 3% in 2023 to $30,119, according to the latest data from The Wedding Report (TWR). Catering represents the second-biggest cost for most couples, with the average wedding notching a food and drink bill of about $10,000, according to a survey of engaged and recently-wed couples by the wedding registry platform Zola. The typical food and drink cost is $85 per guest (not including cake), per the Zola survey. TWR finds that catering accounted for more than a quarter of the total wedding cost, with bar service amounting to $2,785 (up 4% year over year) and wedding venue food service ringing in at $5,391 (up 3.6% over 2022). Wedding costs are expected to rise again this year due to stubbornly high inflation, per Zola, with caterers facing rising food and labor costs.
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