Continued growth predicted for the food service management sector despite Brexit fears

By James Beeson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Drive: The industry is firmly behind the government’s ambition to combat obesity and increase the nation’s health
Drive: The industry is firmly behind the government’s ambition to combat obesity and increase the nation’s health

Related tags: Catering

Short and medium-term growth is forecast in the foodservice management sector, despite concerns over post-Brexit immigration restrictions, according to a new survey of the industry from the British Hospitality Association (BHA).

The report, Leading Through Unprecedented Change and Uncertainty: Food Service Management Market Report 2017​, reveals that the UK sector saw turnover of £35bn last year.

It also forecasts that - despite expectations of a period of unprecedented change caused by Brexit - growth will be stimulated within the sector by demographic trends, the ageing population and rising student numbers.

Major foodservice management businesses indicated they would add 32,000 new jobs next year but, with 31% of their workers coming from the EU, respondents were concerned about post-Brexit immigration and restrictions on the UK labour market.

Confidence in Goverment slipping

The survey also revealed that the industry’s confidence in Government support for it has slipped further. Business reported wanting a more measured approach to the national living wage and a stronger recognition of the importance of immigration.

The top factor constraining growth, said respondents, is rising food cost inflation with staff recruitment difficulties the second.

Looking to the future, the industry recognises the rise of new trends, with healthy eating and street food important as well as smart payments. Self-service kiosks and online ordering are seen as key trends for the future.

The industry also showed it is firmly behind the Government’s ambition to combat obesity and improve the nation’s health, with almost all companies reducing the amount of sugar and salt in their offerings and providing healthier alternative meals.

Fighting off the high street

Speaking about the survey, BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim said: “This report is a vital resource for those in the industry. Its results show the strength and confidence of the industry but also its concerns, most notably those about Brexit and its impact on employment.

“We, as the major representative of the hospitality and tourism sector, are the main voice of this industry and can communicate its concerns to Government.”

MCA’s exective director Simon Stenning added: “This complex market has been constantly evolving to face new challenges, and these keep coming, but the resilience of the leaders within it will ensure that it sees further growth.

“The key challenge from a catering perspective will be how to embrace retailing techniques and skills to fight off stiff competition from the high street, whilst balancing the need to be ‘foodie’ caterers.”

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