CHICAGO – Although catering orders for business and medical offices slipped during the economic downturn of the past three years, breakfast and dinner catering usage is up noticeably since 2007, according to Technomic's recently-updated study Large Orders Off-Premise (LOOP).

Nineteen percent of surveyed business and medical users ordered breakfast catering at least once a week, compared to 13 percent in 2007. And 26 percent of those surveyed said they order catered-in dinners at work at least monthly, up from 18 percent four years ago.

"We learned that breakfast occasions are growing due to meeting time-shifting and lower costs,” said Melissa Wilson, Technomic principal. “Dinner occasions, on the other hand, are growing because employees are being asked to work late, and some employers provide dinner to help ease the pain of longer days.”

More catered breakfast and dinner occasions means new opportunities for some restaurant chains to step into office and medical catering, segments that used to be the nearly exclusive domain of lunch-time meal providers.

Technomic’s study updates research conducted in 2007. Other findings include:

  • The average group size for business and medical catering orders has remained steady at 19 to 20 people. However, cut-backs have occurred in average per-person expenditures since 2007.
  • Catering decision-makers said incentives have grown in importance as a way to stretch their catering budgets. While all types of incentives have increased in importance, coupons gained the most influence.
  • Retailers, especially warehouse clubs, are competing effectively with restaurants for business and medical catering occasions. One in five survey respondents reported using a warehouse club in the past 60 days for a business catering occasion.