12 April 2001 | Liam O'Brien
The annual turnover of the contract catering sector rose dramatically to £3.26 billion last year but price rises in the wake of the foot and mouth outbreak are likely to put a dent in this year's figures.
Contract catering growth in nearly every area raised the industry's turnover by 8.5 per cent, according to the latest annual survey from the Contract Catering Forum. Only in education, where delays by local authorities in introducing best value, was there no growth.
Another report found that food prices paid by commercial purchasers last year were 1.7 per cent lower than in 1999 and 5 per cent down on the year before. The 80 suppliers questioned by consultancy PSL found the sharpest falls in dry goods (3.3 per cent) and fruit, vegetable and salad (3 per cent). Meat prices, however, were markedly higher, with pork rising by 30 per cent, bacon by 7 per cent and chicken by 6 per cent.
PSL, which provides food purchasing management, warns that the price pressures generated by BSE, bad weather, fishing quotas and foot and mouth are likely to cause price increases in the coming months.