Foodservice Customers

Worth a staggering £57bn, the UK foodservice industry is the 4th largest employer in the UK.

Made up of over 362,679 outlet types, from travel and leisure hubs, through to hotels, universities, pubs, bars and beyond, the foodservice industry is not only hugely fragmented, but also a complex environment that meets hugely varied consumer needs, from institutional dining in hospitals and schools, through to fine dining restaurants and even street food stalls. Presently, total wholesale food and drink value sits at circa £13bn.

The Foodservice Market

Retail, Travel & Leisure

Number of outlets: 81,642

Wholesale food and drink value: £3bn


Hotels, Pubs & Restaurants

Number of outlets: 164, 915

Wholesale food and drink value: £5bn


Contract sector

Number of outlets: 116,122

Wholesale food and drink value: £4bn

Today’s foodservice professionals are faced with a diverse range of consumer demands depending upon the environments they operate within. There has never been a more critical time for operators and wholesalers alike to keep on top of trend information, as veganism becomes fashionable, burgers get bigger, and food consumption evolves across more day parts than ever before.












– An increase in the cost of ingredients

– Rising business rates

– Increasing staff costs paired with decreasing staff availability

– The fall in pound sterling

This has been evident over the last 12 months or so as over supply across the casual dining sector has driven a number of high profile outlet closures on our high streets. As the market stabalises, however, quality, customer service and innovation will continue to be key to success for brands in this field.


But it’s not all bad news…according to CGA data, over 76% of business leaders cite performance as either being in line with, or exceeding expectations in 2017, and consumer confidence remains high, with 81% of British consumers predicting no immediate change to their monthly eating and drinking out spend.

Alongside this, there is increasing opportunity for foodservice businesses to become more sustainable, reduce the environmental impact of the supply chain and take responsibility for the ‘green issues’ that matter most to customers.

Great strides have been taken in this arena, from waste management initiatives through to animal welfare schemes and greater education across the industry as whole, from farm to plate. Businesses, which succeed here, are also likely to succeed with consumers.

Changing tastes

Experience is everything

Third party operators including Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats are changing the way we purchase food and drink, expanding choice and convenience. Diners are now in a position to enjoy sushi from the sofa or craft beer from their local without even leaving the house, making the consumer experience more important than EVER before…whether that be grabbing a coffee on the go, or just choosing where to spend a lazy Saturday morning enjoying brunch.

And talking of brunch…the ways and times in which consumers are eating out of home are changing. The rise in casual dining has seen a significant shift in the traditional restaurant experience, and coffee shops are set to outnumber pubs by 2030, as millenials shun alcohol in favour of speciality beverages and café culture. As we see more and more big name high street brands calling last orders, the industry must adapt to evolve.

A perfect storm of headwinds is starting to create a tough trading environment for operators, who are citing a number of differing factors as having a negative effect, or set to have a negative effect on their businesses. With Brexit looming, in March 2019 this uncertainty will continue to be seen.

With so much going on, it’s an exciting, if not a little unpredictable time to operate within the foodservice sector, whatever your position within it.  It is important to develop partnerships that effectively harness the strength of brands and the supply chain.

By working together, wholesalers, distributors, brands and end users can use their combined strength, experience and voice to ensure that whatever the future holds, the industry delivers customer and consumer based solutions, which continue to drive the industry forward.

Drafted by The Hub, The Specialist Foodservice And Retail PR And Trade Marketing Agency. Check back for future blogs tackling the issues that matter the most to foodservice professionals.