Each year, the International Caterers Association polls member caterers about the state of the industry. To get a glimpse into the world of catering, we asked caterers about their strengths and struggles in 2017 as well as what they were expecting in 2018. We were excited to hear that 94% of caterers surveyed believe that business will be up in the next year. Dive deeper into the survey results to see how you compare!
What happened in 2017?
For many ICA member caterers, 2017 was a good year! According to 71.53% of participants, their business improved in the last year. Many caterers also noticed and adapted to trends in the catering industry, most notably satisfying clients' new tastes, accommodating a wider variety of diets and catering to different events.
As for clients' new tastes, American cuisine (which has been the favorite in years past) was even more popular this year, with 44% of caterers saying it was their most requested. Also growing in popularity were international and farm-to-table catering, at 23% and 18%, respectively. International cuisine is certainly on the rise, as only 5.88% of caterers said it was most requested in 2015.
As many caterers know, dietary accommodations are more popular each year, and the results reflect this change. More than 90% of members surveyed cater to vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free diets, and over 80% cater to peanut allergies, too. Another common dietary accommodation? Over 30% of caterers now cater to Kosher diets.
Our survey also explored how events have changed in the past year, and we found out that this area stayed consistent for many caterers. The largest area of growth was corporate catering, as 54.07% of caterers reported so. Weddings took second, with 29.63% of members surveyed saying they were their largest area of growth in 2017.
What to look forward to in 2018
Now that we've taken a look back, let's see what caterers believe 2018 has to offer.
As said earlier, 94% of caterers surveyed expect business to increase in 2018, though not without challenges! Staffing (54%) and sales (11%) were the biggest business struggles in 2017, but many member caterers are excited to tackle these challenges with some help from other ICA members and catering experts at Catersource. Over 84% of caterers surveyed were either interested in or planning on attending the catering conference and tradeshow in 2018 to solve business problems, network with other industry leaders and strategize success for their future—we can't wait to see the results!