Contract Catering in brief

Print this page

Contract catering comprises the services needed to prepare and deliver meals to people working and/or living in communities: public and private undertakings, administrations, crèches, schools, hospitals, retirement homes, prisons, barracks, etc. When these activities are entrusted to a service provider, this is called contract catering (CC).

CC has the following characteristics:

  • the existence of a written contract between the client entity and the company providing the service; 
  • a well-defined group of users, consisting of members of the client entity;
  • special constraints arising from the fact that the service is provided on the premises of the client entity, in line with a method of organisation specific to that entity;
  • a social price that is significantly lower than the price of a meal in commercial catering.

In all European countries over the past thirty years, the number of meals consumed outside the home has been constantly growing. Collective catering (whether or not on a contract basis) has followed this trend, and currently represents half of the meals consumed outside the home.

In 2004, the cumulative annual turnover of all contract catering companies operating in Europe represented approximately €22 billion. The subcontracting rate is rising considerably depending on the sector of activity: B&I (public and private undertakings, administration), Health and Welfare sector (hospitals, crèches, retirement homes), Education (schools, colleges, universities, etc., and other sectors (prisons, barracks, etc.).

In 2004, the B&I sector alone accounted for 56% of the turnover in contract catering, followed by the Health and Welfare sector (21%), and Education (18%).

The Health and Welfare sector will, by 2020, be one of the main sources of growth for contract catering companies.

Rate of penetration of CCC (2003)

Rate of penetration per sector (2003)

Content of this guide

With the financial support of the EU
Grant Agreement
VS/2004/0655 SI2.39852