What Foodservice Operators are saying at the moment

Foodservice Operators



Our interviewers speak with operators nationwide five days per week, eleven months of the year.  Every week, they report in their observations and anecdotal market insights in both the Commercial as well as the Institutional Foodservice sector.

Here is a summary of some interesting comments:

  • The number of students using the School Canteen continues to decline across the board. A general observation is that around 20% of students use the canteen; making it the norm. School Canteens attracting a higher percentage of students than 20% is considered to be doing really well.
  • With such low numbers of students using the School Canteen, many schools have closed down their canteen service altogether, while others are contracting out the canteen catering. However, while a School Canteen run by the school itself is usually a not-for-profit concern, outside caterers are not, leading to increased menu prices.
  • School Canteen managers stress that students do want a variety of menu options and dishes to experience different tastes and cuisines.
  • Some School Canteen managers raise the issue of food wastage, wanting to reduce food waste as much as possible but often do not know how.
  • In general, Long Daycare Centres restrict sugar, salt, many spices and various ready-made sauces & condiments to staff only.
  • Long Daycare Centres all provide gluten free, dairy free as well as vegetarian menu dishes with many also catering to other allergies as well as religious diet requirements such as Halal meals.
  • The main drinks in Childcare Centres are water and milk. Many also provide fresh fruit juice, while some use sugar-free cordials. Other beverages including carbonated soft drinks are reserved for special occasions or functions.
  • Some Childcare Centres ban eggs altogether due to allergies, even if it is only one child being allergic, they find it easier to not use eggs at all and find other alternatives instead.
  • Clubs are running well with guest numbers back to pre-Covid levels. Many Clubs do also report that patron numbers are even higher than those seen during 2019. This speaks, of course, to the trade-down effect in the hospitality market as mentioned above.
  • Pub/Taverns are also back to ‘business as usual’ and continue to evolve and change their menus to suit local demand.
  • Pubs/Taverns have seen an increased demand for vegetarian menu options, but vegetarian dishes have to be interesting and flavourful and with a lot of variety. Very often vegetables are being used in feature dishes and part of center of plate.
  • The same demand for a variety of interesting and flavourful vegetarian dishes is seen in Clubs, however, the good old mainstays like Sunday roast, hamburgers, pizzas and pasta are still highly in demand.
  • Functions are also back in Clubs; which made Christmas & New Year a very busy peak period.
  • There is also a trend back to increased portion sizes for chips and salads in both Pubs and Clubs now that supply issues have eased, and price inflation is stabilising.
  • Breakfast service is back in Cafés right across the country with many Cafés experiencing a 50/50 split in turnover between the two meal segments breakfast and lunch. It remains a fact that Australians are the biggest ‘eater-outerers’ of breakfast in the Western world.  Hence, the breakfast meal segment has for the past decades always been a gauge on how the Commercial foodservice market is performing.  While we eat out for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner as well as snack meals, the breakfast segment is the first to go when economic conditions are worsening.
  • This is supported by the finding that many QSR Chains are now adding breakfast to their menus, emulating McDonald’s breakfast offering. This is, of course, leading to early opening hours when it comes to both major and minor QSR Chains.
  • Many QSR Independent outlets now find themselves offering a mixed menu – not just concentrating on one key food group. For example, Fish & Chips Shops report that their revenue increased when also having a more limited menu of burgers, chicken, pizza and pasta dishes together with their fish & seafood main menu.
  • Foodservice operators in more remote and rural areas report increased transport costs being passed on by their suppliers. Some have also been cut off totally from their suppliers due to recent floods and were only able to continue trading if they could source local produce and had kept a stockpile of foodstuffs for backup.
March 25, 2024
Foodservice Operators
Our interviewers speak with operators nationwide five days per week, eleven months of the year. Every week, they report in their observations and anecdotal market insights in both the Commercial as well as the Institutional Foodservice sector.