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Catering services in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Catering is the provision of food services, typically in locations that are not restaurants, such as hotels or event venues. As of May 2017, over 13 million people were employed in food services occupations in the United States, including all those related to food preparation and serving. Of those employees, approximately 404 thousand were institution and cafeteria cooking occupations and around 264 thousand were considered nonrestaurant food servers.

Food and drink sales of the restaurant industry in the United States were forecasted to exceed 780 billion U.S. dollars in 2016. The sales generated by caterers in the U.S. look moderate within this comparatively large industry – food and drink sales of social caterers were expected to reach approximately 8.12 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, and sales of mobile caterers just 914.9 million. Independent catering companies and restaurant private dining caterers ranked second and third out of all catering services categories in terms of revenue in 2016. Military foodservice providers and college or university caterers made the least.

The largest catering company in the world is UK-based Compass Group. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Surrey, England, the company specializes in food service and support services and employs more than half a million people worldwide. In 2016, Compass Group’s revenue amounted to 19.88 billion GBP (approximately 24.7 billion U.S. dollars as of November 2016), with the majority of this coming from business in North America.

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