CHICAGO — As the economy struggles and foodservice operators fight to survive, recent research indicates in-home catering is becoming more popular. More than one-third of consumers (36%) said they are entertaining at home more often than a year ago, according to a recent study from Technomic Inc. Only 13% said they are doing so less often. This offers opportunities for catering meat, poultry and other varied dishes.

"Consumers tell us that they are enjoying reconnecting with friends in their homes," says Melissa Wilson, Technomic principal. "The appeal is tied to socializing in a very casual atmosphere where everyone brings a dish to share, often sourced from local restaurants or food retailers."

Technomic's POP: Parties Off Premise study, an evaluation of consumer catering opportunities for restaurants and food retailers, found catering is one of the strongest segments of the foodservice industry and appears somewhat immune from recessionary spending cut-backs.

Other findings include:

  • During the next year, 40% of consumers expect to entertain at home more often, in order to socialize with friends and family.
  • Regarding sourcing food for these occasions, restaurant usage is comparable to the use of retailers (68% versus 69%, respectively).
  • Fifty-three percent of consumers reported buying platters and other prepared foods for this year’s Fourth of July holiday, the largest holiday usage for these types of purchases after Christmas (66%) and Thanksgiving (61%).