Contract catering sales remain below 2019 levels due to cost pressures, according to the CGA by NielsenIQ and Bidfood Contract Catering Tracker.
Sales were 11.5% below the second quarter of 2019, which has been aggravated by the closure of a large number of contract catering venues.
However, data also showed that there have been signs of recovery. Although contract catering sales have failed to meet 2019 rates, there has been an upward trajectory with sales down 26% on 2019 levels in the fourth quarter of 2021 and down 20% in the first quarter of 2022.
Between April and June 2022, sales were up 56% from the second quarter of 2021.
Karl Chessell, director of hospitality operators and food, EMEA, at CGA, 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, added: "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."
CGA's Contract Catering Tracker aggregates sales from foodservice operators to provide quarterly reports.