The contract catering world has been surprised by the latest bit of coffee industry research that reveals that there is still ‘a coffee challenge to caterers’ in supplying the workplace market. This research suggests that ‘contract caterers are losing up to a staggering 31 per cent of total sales to the high street… over half of consumers leaving the workplace to buy coffee stated ‘quality’ as the primary reason for their decision’.
The reason the contract catering trade has greeted this with some surprise is that the matter of coffee quality in the workplace has been discussed for well over a decade. Fourteen years ago, the professional magazines for facilities managers were discussing the problem of staff constantly popping out to Starbucks or Costa, and now, all this time later, the research says: ‘to reach those consumers who leave the workplace to purchase coffee elsewhere, caterers need to consider whether their offer suits the demographic of the workers, the pricing is right and do they provide a comfortable drinking environment.’
Last year, there was strong growth in the UK branded coffee, non-specialist coffee and ‘at home’ coffee markets, so contract caterers face a continual battle to keep coffee drinkers on site. To do this, coffee quality has to be great, the price attractive and the point of difference overwhelming. The research did reveal that, while many operators are serving coffee to a high standard, there is still a lot of room for improvement.