Corporate catering has always offered restaurant operators a chance to expand their business and increase profit margins, and today, those opportunities are greater than ever. While there was certainly a dip in catering demand during the pandemic, sales quickly rebounded. In fact, ezCater reported double-digit growth in catering orders between 2021 and 2022.
Today, ezCater’s business catering orders have outpaced 2019 levels and the current demand for business catering is booming.
To view more business catering stats and learn the latest catering best practices, download ezCater’s Feeding The Workplace Report.
Before we dig into the top catering trends, it’s worth exploring two of the main reasons that corporate catering is on the rise:
1. More people are returning to the office
The days of fully remote work are gone. According to ezCater survey data, 49% of workers now work fully onsite, while 46% spend at least a few days per week in the office — a good sign for caterers.
More people in the office means more demand for catered holiday parties, team meetings, and training sessions. This return to an in-person environment also results in more client meetings and networking events, which, of course, are much more enjoyable with a catered meal.
2. More businesses are using food as an incentive
With about half of employees still in a hybrid environment, employers are looking for ways to boost in-office participation and bring people together. And the best way to do that is with food.
Over 85% of the surveyed businesses in our report agreed that food incentivizes employees to work onsite, and 83% said that their food-for-work budgets have either stayed the same or increased. That gives restaurant operators an incredible opportunity to boost off-premises revenue.
The average ezCater order totals $350 and serves 25 people. And nearly 80% of corporate catering customers order at least once a month — and 32% order weekly.
How to take advantage of the top corporate catering trends
Ready to take advantage of this growing investment opportunity? The first step is to understand and adapt to the current corporate catering landscape. While you don’t need to completely rework your menu, you can maximize its potential by considering and incorporating these top catering trends.
Invest in individualized packaging
Businesses today must keep things personalized to retain customers. In fact, over half of consumers say they’ll become repeat buyers if they have a personalized experience.
That’s true for all businesses — but especially true for the food industry. Everyone has specific tastes, which can’t always be accommodated with sit-down meals or buffets. That’s why individual packaging has become so important — it allows customers to order a personalized meal in personalized packaging.
While individual packaging peaked during the pandemic, accounting for 41% of ezCater orders, it has remained a favorite ordering option. In 2023, 30% of orders are still individually packaged, which is three times as many in 2019.
This number will likely remain high. Two-thirds of customers surveyed said they would continue to order individually packaged meals at the same rate — or even more often — than they currently do.
Offer options for dietary accommodations
Part of the appeal of individualized packaging is that customers can adapt their own meals to meet any dietary needs and restrictions. But these dietary accommodations should be a priority — not an afterthought — since they’re much more common than you might think.
The majority of all ezCater orders — 66%, to be exact — include some type of accommodation. Among the people surveyed, 49% expressed a need for vegetarian accommodations, followed by gluten-free and vegan needs at 39% and 35%, respectively. A significant portion (20%) also expressed the need for dairy-free items.
Unfortunately, these individuals are often left with very few meal options. Even buffets and bars can be limiting. For example, vegetarians and vegans might be only able to eat a small side salad while everyone else has a full meal. That’s why restaurant operators should consider adapting and diversifying their catering menus to include options for all eaters.
Promote your beverages, sides, and desserts
When people sit down at a restaurant, they first get a beverage, then the sides, and finally the meal (and maybe a dessert). That’s the complete meal experience, so why should catered meals be any different?
Business catering customers should always have the option to add beverages, sides, and desserts to their meals — especially when ordering for the entire office or a large group. For example, a business might want to order two liters of soda or a large side salad to go with their main course for 10-20 people.
That’s why vendors should ensure their menus are flexible enough to accommodate these complete meal combos. Not only do they keep customers happy (and full), but these mix-and-match options also increase the vendor’s profits.
Win more business by offering ezCater’s top crowd pleasers
To reach and retain customers, operators should consider what types of meals people want and adjust their menus to include them. That doesn’t mean completely changing the cuisine or the restaurant brand, but maybe just getting creative with the dishes and presentation.
With that in mind, here are some of the most-ordered business catering meals on ezCater.
Catered breakfasts are becoming more common, allowing companies to connect and mingle before the regular workday grind. In fact, breakfasts are so popular that it’s the most used filter on the ezCater Marketplace.
So why not include a breakfast menu? It’s the perfect way to expand beyond the typical lunch and dinner menus and capitalize on a growing demand.
Sandwiches have long been a favorite catered meal. They’re easily customizable and create a minimal mess, making them ideal for everything from lunch meetings to networking events. That’s why it’s no surprise that sandwiches are the number one food on ezCater, accounting for over 30% of all orders.
Mexican and Italian food
After sandwiches, Mexican and Italian food are the most ordered meals on ezCater. It makes sense since options like taco bars and pasta buffets can feed many people while accommodating some dietary needs.
Even restaurants that don’t specialize in Mexican and Italian food can tap into this niche by offering their own twist on pasta dishes or burritos.
Level up your corporate catering with ezCater
Whether you are just getting started with corporate catering or want to improve your approach, ezCater can help. Download our 2023 report, Feeding The Workplace, for extensive insights and tips. You can also contact our sales team at email@example.com to learn how you can become a catering partner today.