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Tighter spending, rising costs and recruitment difficulties top fears for foodservice operators

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Tighter spending, rising costs and recruitment difficulties top fears for foodservice operators

UKHospitality and Bidfood have published their latest Food Service Management report. Janie Manzoori-Stamford and James Stagg report

Tighter consumer spending, rising food inflation and staff recruitment difficulties are the biggest factors expected to constrain growth for foodservice companies post-Brexit.

That’s according to the latest Food Service Management report, published by UKHospitality in partnership with Bidfood.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of the 11 leading foodservice firms polled said that reduced consumer spending was a concern, while more than half (55%) were worried about rising food costs, and 45% were worried about their ability to hire workers following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

But the report also highlighted a number of potential opportunities for growth, led by demand for healthy eating and sustainable food sourcing.

More than 90% of foodservice businesses considered health and nutrition to be an important or critically important issue, while more than 90% of businesses surveyed had a workforce that was more than 50% female.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Bartlett Mitchell executive chairman Wendy Bartlett said that though Brexit was a concern in terms of food supplies, there were upsides.

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“One of the benefits of Brexit is that people are thinking more seriously about how they attract employees,” she said. “Interestingly, we’ve had clients come along who have never had catering – they realise that it’s a differentiator. People expect fresh food and decent coffee rather than from a vending machine.”

Bartlett was joined at the launch by CH&Co chairman Tim Jones, who confirmed that health and nutrition was a key part of any contract offer.

“I’m a strong believer that everything is fine in moderation,” he said. “You have to offer choice – but if you take chips off the menu, you’re finished in the office environment. The realities are that if you don’t offer that choice, someone in the high street will.”

Bartlett added that if you offer vegan and vegetarian food more prominently, it makes the choice easier. “But it’s not for us to remove choice,” she continued. “I’m a strong believer that the responsibility lies with the individual, but we should provide the options for them to make a choice. We need to provide innovative choices, not just because it’s healthy, but because it looks fantastic.”

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “The foodservice management sector is a crucial element of the UK’s hospitality industry. The sector is buzzing with dynamic and talented leaders and we are very pleased to represent them. This report underlines the importance and vibrancy of the sector as well as the opportunities and challenges it faces.

“FSM businesses, like their high street cousins, innovate and provide much-needed investment around the UK. They are no less important than our pub, bar and hotel sectors, and UKHospitality will be using this report to ensure they are supported by government.”

An industry in crisis, part one: Why are we sleepwalking into a staffing catastrophe? >>

UKHospitality calls on government to support industry and cut employment costs >>

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