February 3rd 2020
3 High Street Cuisine Trends Helping Contract Caterers Boost Footfall
by Rosina Bucknall Events, Industry Advice
Despite the constant media obituaries, the high street isn’t dead. Between 2012 and 2017, the number of businesses increased by 15%, with employment in the food sector increasing by over 20% UK-wide.
Now it’s easy to look at those stats and think “So what?” Traditionally, the competition has been other caterers chasing the same contracts. But the rise of the high street means clients are now competing with the many food options on their doorstep – and that means contract caterers need to up the ante.
Here are 3 key trends from the high street that can help contract caterers boost footfall (and attract the best chefs and managers).
For a long while, high street food was limited to a limp pre-packaged meal deal, jacket potato or basic panini. But that’s changed. Now, customers can get everything from sushi to burritos to artisan salads to Indian street food – with a free-from, vegetarian and vegan options.
And it’s not just customers that seek out this variety. Chefs are naturally creative people, and creative people don’t enjoy doing the same thing day in, day out. Varied menus give chefs a chance to explore different styles of cooking, challenge themselves and keep things interesting.
Of course, no contract caterer can realistically offer the same variety as an entire high street. But to keep your client’s staff on site, you need chefs with varied talents heading up varied menus that cater to a range of tastes and diets.
Public awareness of climate change, food provenance, waste and the single-use plastic is at an all-time high. And people are putting their money where their mouth is, with 30% of customers opting for eco-friendly choices when they make purchases.
The high street is responding to this rising demand. From offering more plant-based options to rewarding customers for reusable cups, more businesses are building sustainability into their offering.
Caterers are also responding to this trend. Leading London caterer Vacherin, for example, recently hosted a Christmas party where everything on the menu was made from food that otherwise would have gone in the bin.
These small touches make a big difference to clients. Not only do they fit in with their CSR and sustainability agendas, but they contribute to their own employee engagement, too. Identifying ways to showcase sustainability therefore helps strengthen your relationship with your clients, as well as clients’ relationship with their staff.
We are a nation of coffee addicts, with 95 million cups of the good stuff drunk daily in the UK. Therefore, coffee can’t be an afterthought for contract caterers, who historically have offered the same name-brand blends as everyone else.
These days, if you want to keep customers on site, your coffee needs to be up to scratch. We’re seeing a growing number of contract caters cultivating their own blends or working with artisan producers, incorporating a unique coffee brand into their offering.
And the beans are only one consideration. There’s also the customer-facing aspect of the coffee brand, with caterers having specialist baristas who give the full experience.
To incorporate these trends into your offering (and experience the profitability boost), you need the right skills – in the kitchen and running your contracts.
This means looking beyond contract catering circles and bringing in high street experience. It means benefiting from transferable skills that help you innovate. And it means thinking laterally with clients, so everyone is in a stronger position.
Learn more about achieving this in our latest guide, which focuses on how to attract and retain these essential skills in your business:
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