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Catersource State of the Industry 2023, Part 1

Survey says

It’s been quite a roller coaster for the catering and events industry thanks to lingering effects from the pandemic followed by substantial growth during recovery, forcing everyone to embrace a new normal. Fluctuating prices, technological advancements, staffing shortages, and changing consumer behaviors are just a few factors that forced the catering and events industry to adapt.  

As 2023 comes to a close, the catering industry finds itself at the intersection of tradition and innovation, so let’s take a look back at a year that challenged caterers to tap into their most creative solutions.

“Remember, it’s not what happened,” says Roy Porter (Engage Works), “it’s how you react to what happened. Your positive attitude will help you react in a positive way and find the underlying opportunities.” 

Survey says

Earlier in the third quarter, Catersource released a survey to our readership. Surveys are always a good place to start an end of the year report. Let’s first look at some of the questions we asked, and some of the interesting responses we received, and then we will move into the Catersource State of the Industry 2023.

Who responded to our survey?

  • 35% identified as Owner/CEO
  • 23% as Director/VP
  • 17% as Event Planning & Staff
  • 16% Sales/Marketing

Interestingly, 25% noted that they have been in the events industry for 10–14 years, 18% have been in the industry for 15–20 years, and an impressive 44% have worked in the industry for more than 20 years.  

Top Trends of 2023 

We asked, you answered! Here are the top trends that took
the spotlight throughout 2023 according to the Catersource State of the Industry survey. 

  • Interactive food stations
  • Small bites
  • Health and wellness
  • Outdoor events
  • Vegan and vegetarian
  • Allergy conscious menus
  • Comfort food with a twist
  • Build-your-own bars
  • Family-style service
  • Grazing tables
  • Fusion/global influences
  • Customization
  • Farm to table
  • Extravagant florals
  • Signature cocktails
  • Dessert stations
  • Personalized décor
  • Late night snacks
  • Experiential
  • Themes
  • Casual with a formal flair

This year’s survey looked at everything from staffing to client spend to guest counts to client requests. Take a look at the accompanying data to hear from your peers on what they encountered this year. 

Check back next week for part two of our State of the Industry 2023 report where we'll look at corporte catering and immersive experiences. 

Get industry insight from these experts during Catersource + The Special Event, February 12–15 in Austin, TX.  

Amber Kispert

Senior Content Producer

Amber is the Senior Content Producer for Catersource. Amber previously worked as a Communications Specialist for LeClair Group and a reporter for the Woodbury Bulletin, both located in Woodbury, Minn.  As a self-described "foodie," Amber loves to experience the world of food and beverages, and is excited to help share the stories of Catersource and the world's caterers.