via H&C : Overall, it appears to be business as usual for caterers, with over 50% of those working in the industry suggesting that they are positive about the year ahead and business in 2017. Of those surveyed, 42% claim that they are ‘very positive’ about the year ahead, with an additional 22% suggesting that they are ‘slightly positive’ about business to come this year.
With a mere 0.5% of caterers suggesting that they are ‘very negative’ about the year ahead, this appears to be good news for the industry in a year of uncertainty in the wake of Brexit.
With Brexit continuously looming over all business sectors, alongside the unreliability in the strength of the pound, on paper the catering industry may perhaps have been less optimistic, but within wedding and events catering – it has been claimed that ‘people keep booking’.
However, this doesn’t mean that caterers working in the wedding and event industry need to rest on their laurels. Together with Nisbets, specialists in catering equipment, we assess how caterers can remain innovative in the industry to ensure that 2017 is a good year for the industry.
Food preparation and service
When catering for a wedding or an event, usually the choices for guests are limited, and those with specific dietary requirements are usually catered for on an ad hoc basis. However, the way food is served is moving away from the usual methods we are used to within the industry.
From those that responded, only 14% suggested that they typically served food in a seated dining environment. This is compared to 4% who suggested that they often serve hot buffets, 3.4% who serve a cold buffet, and 2.9% who serve a BBQ. These statistics reveal that within the industry, hot food still prevails, which suggests guests still expect a meal that is cooked for them.
Although this data is not wholly indicative of the industry, with 14% claiming that their most popular choice for a wedding is seated dining, 86% of those surveyed are serving more bespoke catering requests that are either more specific to the client’s specifications, or is not in-line with traditional serving options within this industry.
To stand out from the crowd this year, it appears caterers will need to think outside the box in terms of how food is prepared, or how food can be served to guests – so that guests are not served in the seated arrangements that they have become accustomed to.
Making sure you’re noticed
Social media has become most people’s first port of call when it comes to learning about new businesses and what they offer, and it has become clear in recent years that this is no different for catering businesses. So that caterers can get ahead of their competition, their business model needs to be accompanied by a social media platform and presence that reflects the food they serve.
Based on the caterers that responded to the question of what media platform had most benefitted their advertising campaign, the highest response came from social media – 14%. Furthermore, it appears that it is not only younger caterers and businesses that are taking advantage of social media campaigns, as a vast proportion of those claiming to use the platform were aged 35 or over. This suggests then, that social media is permeating every level of industry – from start-ups with young employees new to the industry, to experienced caterers and businesses looking to push their business and their customer-base even further.
In comparison, less than 1% had used more traditional forms of advertising, such as magazines newspapers and other printed methods. It is evident then, that for the industry to thrive, advertising within the catering industry should not be geared towards paper forms of communication. For caterers to be leaders in the industry within the wedding and events sector, having a web presence is key in a digital age that promotes the individuality of a business through social media channels.
Food trends for 2017
As well as food preparation and service, the types of foods that will become popular within the catering industry are also changing. The most significant change is that caterers are now having to consider menus that are geared towards heathy eating, and specifically within the wedding and events sub-industry.
Of the total number who answered the survey regarding what will be the most popular food trend of 2017, 37% claimed that this would be healthy eating. More specifically, this trend will involve more ethically friendly types of food on both the body and the environment.
Those surveyed suggested that ‘locally sourced products’, that aim to help ‘reducing food miles’ will work well. Or, more ‘traditional home-cooked style menus’ that appeal to a sense of individuality, rather than a generic menu without ‘customised options’, will also perform well in the short to medium-term for caterers over the course of 2017 leading into 2018.
Based on the direction that these trends are moving, we can see a correlation between more bespoke, individual menus that appeal to the personality of the caterer, and the personalised advertising platforms of social media that allow prospective clients to understand your business and the food you offer in more specific detail. By making your catering business personal and accessible online, it’s clear that you’ll have a good chance of staying ahead of the curve and catering trends in 2017.