Summary of our market study

The contract catering market, which includes the preparation and distribution of meals within companies, communities or public institutions, has undergone significant changes as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Before the pandemic, the global market was expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% between 2018 and 2023, reaching 264 billion euros. However, the rise of telecommuting has had a negative impact on demand, particularly in corporate catering. With fewer employees making regular visits to company canteens, the sector is forced to adapt by offering new services such as deliveries.

Major players such as Sodexo and Compass Group hold significant market shares, accounting for over 50% of the sector's sales in Belgium. Faced with the challenges of the pandemic, companies are resorting to strategies such as winning public contracts, mergers and acquisitions, diversification into event catering and delivery services. The trend towards "responsible" and "sustainable" collective cooking has also gained momentum, with organic, local and waste-reduction practices. Unfortunately, despite the sector's ability to adapt, the slowdown in 2020 was brutal, with a drop of almost 40% for "caterers and other food services" as a whole, indicating the severe blow suffered by the industry as a result of COVID-19.

Changing dynamics and new challenges in the Belgian contract catering market

The Belgian contract catering market, which encompasses the preparation and distribution of meals within companies, communities or public institutions, has undergone significant changes and faced new challenges in recent years. The market caters for a variety of sectors, including corporate catering, healthcare facilities and educational establishments, each with distinct needs and drivers. Demand is driven by a combination of factors, including employee lunch habits, telecommuting trends and an aging population. In Belgium, the contract catering market has historically shown a preference for quick lunches, with a large proportion of employees opting for company restaurants or preparing their meals at home.

Nevertheless, the widespread practice of bringing home cooked meals and the generous granting of meal vouchers in the country often encourage employees to abandon company canteens in favor of off-site restaurants or takeaway services. The rise of telecommuting, particularly accentuated by the COVID-19 crisis, poses a major threat to the corporate catering segment, as the frequency of on-site lunch use declines. Regions with large numbers of teleworkers, such as Brussels, are the hardest hit by this change. As Belgium moves towards a hybrid working model, corporate catering services are being forced to reinvent their business models to remain relevant. Belgium's aging population is driving up demand for catering services in healthcare facilities. With the proportion of the population aged 65 and over expected to reach between 20 and 21% by 2025, and up to 26% by 2050, the need for catering services in long-term care facilities is set to increase proportionately.

Despite evolving trends and demand drivers, the contract catering market has seen a steady decline over the past decade. The average annual decline in the number of companies and employees in the sector has been around 6.4% and 1.3%, respectively. The market, valued at around 860 million euros, is dominated by leading international players such as Sodexo and Compass Group, which together account for almost half of the sector's sales. The sector is also impacted by price trends, with an average increase of 1.6% per year. The costs associated with meals in educational and healthcare establishments often include subsidies or form part of the total cost of accommodation, while company restaurants generally benefit from partial subsidies from the company. This dynamic is changing as companies seek more commercial models in response to reduced corporate contributions.

The trend is towards more commercial models in response to reduced corporate contributions: Focus on the leading contract catering companies

In the dynamic field of foodservice, several heavyweights and a multitude of challengers and smaller entities shape the competitive landscape. Here, we take a look at the key companies that are playing a decisive role in the sector's evolution.

  • Sodexo is a key leader, not only in Belgium, but worldwide. This French-born multinational spreads its tentacles across a variety of sectors, with a significant proportion of its business coming from the healthcare sector, where it manages the culinary needs of hospitals and retirement homes. One of the hallmarks of Sodexo's success is the diversification of its offering, which goes beyond foodservice to encompass a wide range of facilities management services, reflecting a multi-functional strategic approach.
  • UK-based Compass Group is a strong competitor. With a foothold that extends into corporate catering via its Eurest brand, Compass demonstrates a deep presence in schools and healthcare facilities under the Scolarest and Medirest banners respectively. The company's revenue streams are further strengthened by its interest in event catering through entities such as Gourmet Invent, underlining its versatility and adaptability in various catering fields.
  • Aramark occupies a prominent place among leading entities, particularly strong in the healthcare and corporate catering sectors, notable for employing a large workforce to deliver its services across Belgium.
  • The ISS Group, based in Denmark, juggles a unique position by not focusing exclusively on catering, but positioning itself as a comprehensive provider of facility services that also includes foodservice in its portfolio. True to its name, Integrated Service Solutions, ISS aims to provide integrated solutions where catering is part of a wider service experience.
  • Prorest Catering, as a subsidiary of the Dutch Facilcom Group, brings regional expertise and focuses on the outsourcing of facility services such as cleaning and maintenance, reflecting an operational synergy that blurs the boundaries between different service categories.
  • Duo Catering stands out as a leading Belgian SME that has made a name for itself by offering catering services to companies and nursing homes. Its expansion plans reflect a localized, growth-oriented approach.
  • Culinoa specializes in the healthcare and wellness segment and, in addition to providing catering services, enhances its value proposition with software solutions that manage catering needs.
  • API Restoration takes the lead in the French market and demonstrates cross-border influence in the foodservice sector. These major players are continually vying for market share through strategies such as winning lucrative public tenders, mergers and acquisitions
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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of the study

The mass catering is the preparation and distribution of meals within companies, communities or public institutions. Part of the cost of the meal is sometimes borne by the employer or the institution in question. A distinction is made between different types of management - depending on whether it is autonomous and managed internally or delegated to private companies.

The three main sectors of activity of the collective catering are catering at work in companies and public administrations, catering in health care facilities and health care (hospitals and retirement homes) as well as the restoration associated with the educational sector The issues and determinants of the business thus depend on the type of client sector

Worldwide, contract catering is growing rapidly, with forecasts of more than 5% per year between 2018 and 2023 before the Covid-19 crisis. The market is dominated by global players such as the French Sodexo and Elior the American Aramark or English Compass.

Collective catering actors are trying to highlight the quality of their meals, to counter the sometimes somewhat "down-market" image of the offer in collective canteens. By focusing on an organic, responsible and local offer. As the world's leading food service provider, players are trying to win over more and more customers and consumers as the choices for lunch are numerous - especially for corporate catering.

The Covid-19 crisis has had a major impact on the sector and is expected to have a lasting negative impact - with the rise of teleworking in particular - thus accelerating the business model change of the actors of the collective catering.

1.2 A growing global market

The global food service market is booming; between **** and ****, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of *.*% to reach €*** billion.

The main players in this market are relatively few and include Compass Group (***). [***]

Size of the contract catering market World, ****-****, in USD billion Source: ****

NB: Estimates made before ...

1.3 A Belgian market in decline in recent years

The contract catering sector is generally declining since ****, with an CAGR of -*.*%. The turnover of the players in the sector amounted to *** million in **** according to Statbel - about the same level as in ****/****.

The market is dominated by * main players who together account for almost half of the sector, ...

1.4 The impact of the Covid-19 crisis

The Belgian subsidiary of Sodexo announced *** job cuts due to the Covid-** crisis, which is expected to result in "a significant decline in sales"for the players in the sector [***]

The graph below highlights that the main food services players in Belgium lost a significant part of their turnover during the ...

2 Analysis of the demand

2.1 Type of demand

Statbel accounts for contract catering activity under the name "Other food services". This class includes the provision of industrial catering services on the basis of contractual arrangements with the customer for a specified period of time. The meals are usually prepared in central kitchens.

We distinguish :

Activities of companies providing meals ...

2.2 Demand drivers for corporate catering

The lunch habits and preferences of Belgians during the working day

If in the past the company canteen was the preferred place for employees of large companies to go to, the situation has changed and there are more choices.

Thus, Belgians have several choices for lunch:

Company restaurants Home-cooked meals Off-site ...

2.3 The impact of the evolution of the age pyramid

The growing number of people aged ** and over is increasing the need for care facilities. In ****, there were more than two million people aged ** and over in Belgium, which corresponds to **% of the population. [***]

According to the Federal Planning Bureau, this proportion will increase to **% in **** and even **% in ****. This will ...

2.4 Towards a more balanced and responsible food consumption

In school canteens, parents expect their children to receive a healthy and balanced diet. This is also important in order to educate them to eat well, especially as the number of overweight children has been rising for several decades. The public authorities are also moving in this direction.

Share of overweight ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Segmentation and actor dynamics

The evolution of the number of companies and employees in the sector

Between **** and ****, the total number of businesses in the contract catering sector has seen an average annual decline of *.* in Belgium.

The number of employees in the sector is also declining, but at a slower rate, a slower pace ...

3.2 Growth strategies

Players compete with each other via various strategies to grow, including:

Winning public contracts and tenders (***) when companies want to outsource their collective catering - for example by focusing on the local aspect of the products, CSR, environmental sustainability, etc

Centraledesmarches lists tenders, such as the European Parliament, in ****.

M&A ...

3.3 Competition from other restoration methods

This competition is especially true for company catering, as employees have a choice of catering options for their meals.

As seen in *.*, some Belgians also prepare their meals or lunch boxes at home - which is both more economical and allows them to choose their meal.

Many companies also donate the ...

3.4 Production and distribution analysis: a changing business model

Overall, there are two types of kitchens:

The on-site kitchens that produce meals that are consumed exclusively on site the traditional business model of collective restaurants is mainly based on this type of system The central kitchens, at least part of whose activity produces meals - most often - for satellite ...

4 Analysis of the offer

4.1 Typology and issues of meal supply according to sectors

The different types of management of canteens and collective restaurants:

There are three types of management:

Autonomous Granted Mixed

The types of management depend on the type of player and the size of the player (***). Globally, large companies most often have company restaurants conceded to private companies, which is less the ...

4.2 Analysis of prices and associated costs

Overall, according to Statbel, the graph below highlights a price increase over the period **** - **** - an average of *.*% per year in the contract catering sector. This is broadly the same price increase trend as in the period ****-****.

Evolution of the consumer price index in the catering industry Belgium, ****-****, ...

4.3 Trend in supply: towards "responsible" and "sustainable" collective cooking

In ****, Wallonia launched its "Green Deal Sustainable Canteens" by proposing specifications - signed by *** canteens and public authorities, i.e. more than **% of the region's stakeholders - with various objectives [***] such as:

Reaching **% of organic and local dishes by the end of **** in school canteens and community kitchens. Respecting animal welfare Getting ...

5 Regulation

5.1 Regulations

The main rules are grouped into themes common to the whole sector: Fire safety, Insurance, Indication of prices, Copyrights and similar when broadcasting music or images, conditions for allowing your customers to smoke, Alcohol and similar drinks, VAT - Tariffs - Receipts - Cash register, Food safety, Environmental permits, Acoustic standards, ...

6 Positioning of the actors

6.1 Segmentation

  • Sodexo France
  • Aramark Belgique
  • API Restauration Belgique
  • Facilicom Group
  • Duo Catering
  • ISS Facility Services
  • Elior Ristorazione S.p.a
  • API Restauration

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Size of the contract catering market
  • Geographical breakdown of the foodservice market
  • Proportion of teleworkers by Belgian region
  • How much time do you spend on your lunch break (at work)?
  • Type of lunches eaten by Belgians on working days
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Latest news

Foodservices Sodexo continues to transform its business model - 26/10/2023
  • Sodexo customer retention rate: 95.2
  • Revenue growth for fiscal year 2023: +11.6
  • Sodexo revenues in fiscal 2023: €22.6 billion
  • Revenues from Pluxee food stamp business: +26.9 percent to 1 billion euros
  • Pluxee net profit: 234 million euros
  • Net profit from all other Sodexo businesses: 560 million euros
  • Percentage of Group capital controlled by family holding company Bellon SA: more than 40 percent
  • The United States accounts for 46 percent of Sodexo's on-site services revenues.
Danish cleaning group ISS wants to sell its activities in France - 07/09/2023
  • The ISS Group employs over 14,000 people in France.
  • ISS has achieved sales of over 10 billion euros by 2022.
  • The group employs around 350,000 people worldwide.
Corporate services: Danish giant ISS plans to downsize in France - 11/08/2023
  • ISS is one of the world's leading operators in the business services sector.
  • ISS France employs over 18,000 people.
  • The group is committed to a strategy called "OneISS", launched at the end of 2020, aimed at focusing the group on an integrated services offering.
  • The ISS Group has over 350,000 employees worldwide.
  • Total group revenue amounted to around €10.3 billion.
  • The French business services market is highly competitive, with companies of all sizes, including heavyweights such as Atalian, Bouygues Energies & Services, Elior Services, Samsic, Sodexo and Vinci Energies.
Sodexo BRS: transforming the customer experience - 02/06/2023
  • Sodexo BRS (Benefits & Rewards Services) leverages Genesys Cloud CX and Salesforce Service Cloud to harmonize its customer service strategy
  • Sodexo BRS has a presence in 31 countries.
  • 36 million beneficiaries of Sodexo BRS services.
  • 500.000 corporate and public sector customers.
  • 1.7 million business partners.
  • More than 1,500 customer service agents in different countries.
Mass catering: Elior relaunched by Derichebourg - 18/04/2023
  • Merger between Elior and Derichebourg Multiservices (DMS)
  • Derichebourg's stake in Elior increases from 24.36 percent to 48.4 percent
  • Value of DMS: €450 million (9.1 times its EBITDA for 2022)
  • DMS: 37,000 employees
  • Additional turnover for Elior after integration of DMS: 943 million euros
  • New group (Elior + DMS): turnover of 5.23 billion euros, 134,000 employees
Sodexo splits in two to increase shareholder value - 07/04/2023
  • Sodexo is the world's number two in food services.
  • The BRS division will be spun off in 2024.
  • Sodexo's current market value is about 15 billion euros.
  • BRS accounts for less than 5 percent of Sodexo's revenues, but 25 percent of its operating results.
  • BRS employs fewer than 5,000 people out of Sodexo's total of 420,000 employees worldwide.
  • BRS is targeting sales of 1 billion euros this year.
  • Edenred, a major competitor, has a market capitalization of more than 14 billion euros.
  • Since 2016, Edenred has doubled in size.
  • Food stamp startup Swile, a competitor in the food stamp industry, raised 175 million euros at the end of 2021.

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Sodexo France
Aramark Belgique
API Restauration Belgique
Facilicom Group
Duo Catering
ISS Facility Services
Elior Ristorazione S.p.a
API Restauration

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the contract catering market | Belgium

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