Clarion Group: Managers of Corporate Food Service Operations Are Optimistic About Future Prospects for Their Businesses

Kingston, NH, April 17, 2013 --( The managers of corporate food service operations are optimistic about the prospects for their businesses, according to a nationwide survey conducted jointly by Clarion Group, a food service consulting firm, and Food Management, the magazine of the on-site food service, industry.

“These are the people on the front lines,” commented Tom Mac Dermott, Clarion Group president. “They’re managing their company’s food services every day, and have the pulse of their operations.”

More than half (51.5%) of respondents said their lunch participation (number of customers served) increased by 5% or more during 2012, and exactly half said their breakfast business did equally well. Nearly half (48.5%) of respondents said they expect lunch business to increase again during 2013, while 62.5% say they expect breakfast business to remain at the same level as in 2012.

“Clearly, the effects of the recession are abating and, at least for most of the survey respondents, their food service operations are returning to something close to pre-recession levels,” Mac Dermott said.

The survey found 61.3% of respondents’ “grab-and-go” sales increased in 2012, while 38.7% anticipate further increases this year, and no respondents said they expected a decline.

This response is significant, Mac Dermott noted, because grab-and-go (pre-packaged sandwiches, salads, desserts and the like) sales replace meals employees bring from hope to save time and money. Seventy-one percent of respondents said meals brought from home have not affected their overall sales.

“The meal brought from home has been the on-site food service’s biggest competitor,” he said. “It looks like that trend, which accelerated during the recession, is beginning to reverse a bit, or at least it’s not getting worse.”

Food service managers are cautious about raising prices. More than half (51.6%) haven’t raised prices in more than a year, and only 29% say they plan price increases within the next six months.

But, despite the optimism, the food service managers see financial challenges as their primary concern this year. Asked to identify their three top concerns, 58% said labor costs; 48% said the “bottom line” – profit margin or subsidy limitations, and 39% said café pricing.

More than half of respondents managed food services at sites with a population of 1,500 or more, and almost two-thirds (63%) said their operations were subsidized.

About Clarion Group
Clarion Group is an consulting firm that advises companies, professional firms, colleges and universities, independent schools and institutions in the management, operation and improvement of their in-house employee/student food services, catering, conference, lodging and related hospitality services throughout the U.S. and Canada.

For information, contact:
Tom Mac Dermott, FCSI, President
Clarion Group
PO Box 158, Kingston, NH 03848-0158
603/642-8011 or
Clarion Group
Tom Mac Dermott