According to Technomic, catering was a $64 billion industry in 2019, an increase from $58 billion two years prior. Cracker Barrel demonstrates the success of this service, as the chain increased sales by 3.8% with take-home, heat-and-eat sides during the 2019 holiday season. These offerings are available on other holidays throughout the year as well. Panera is another chain that’s mastered the art of catering and leads the industry with nearly half a billion dollars in annual sales.
Throughout the pandemic, brands turned their focus to carry out and delivery. In late April, 40% of operators promoted their catering menus as family meals, and more than 25% added grocery items to their catering menus. Meanwhile, others sold meal kits that customers could assemble at home. To meet consumers’ shifting needs, operators embraced selections that could safely feed multiple people who quarantined together. The demand will likely evolve as we approach the holidays and families look for more festive options.
For restaurants that already feature catering and takeout, now’s the time to get the word out. Promote through social media and email, sharing images of delicious to-go options and secure packaging, and spotlighting how many people the meal packages can feed. It’s all about making the holiday season easier for your customers, which Butterball can help with its range of fully cooked turkey breasts. They’re whole muscle and made from only breast meat to deliver superior texture and taste. In fact, 57% of diners interested in Thanksgiving meal solutions from restaurants would be more likely to buy one if it featured a Butterball-branded turkey. These fully cooked turkey breasts provide convenience from a trusted brand and, in turn, relief—benefits that are especially valuable as we enter a busy season of celebrations.
With our country’s melting pot of cultures and traditions, it’s important to provide a mix of classic dishes as well as other options to satisfy as many needs as possible. Different occasions call for different flavors, but the thread of connection is the same. In a year that’s involved a lot of hardships, holiday meal solutions can take the stress out of celebrations while preserving the intimate moments created through sharing a meal.
Gurr, Sarah. These 5 Holiday Marketing Ideas Will Boost Your Catering Sales, Lunch Rush, November 2018.
Hennessy, Maggie. Where does COVID-19 leave catering?, Restaurant Business, June 2020.
Romeo, Peter. Heat-and-eat sides yield strong results for Cracker Barrel, Restaurant Business, February 2020.
The Importance of Turkey in Food Away from Home, Butterball, 2019.