Catering services accounted for 25% of universities' income in the year ending November 2019, according to a report by College and University Business Officers (CUBO).
Across the 33 institutions surveyed catering income totalled £208.6m, an average of £6.3m for each university.
CUBO is the professional association for senior managers of commercial and campus services in higher education including catering, accommodation, sport and conferences. It surveyed multiple institutions for its Benchmarking Survey 2019 to examine the value of their revenue streams.
For the year ending November 2019 the combined catering, accommodation and conferencing income of 35 institutions reached £795.7m, an average of £22.7m per institution and an increase of 11% from the previous year.
Jo Hardman, vice chair of CUBO said: "The two extremely valuable areas of income come from residential and catering provision and this year, of the overall total commercial income, these collectively accounted for 89%. Catering is very important and this included catering within residential accommodation too.
"It is so important for our members to see a breakdown in income streams and build a picture from our survey results of what is happening nationally - especially in terms of where emphasis is placed on services and potentially where future investment should be going to continually enhance the student and staff experience."