Boost in demand comes with challenges for catering businesses

Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 6:34 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - While a return to more planned holiday parties with larger groups and businesses is a welcome change from last year for catering companies, it does come with challenges for those companies.

Ben Arnold, owner of Corporate Caterers of Wichita and AVI Seabar & Chophouse, said the catering industry is facing three big challenges.

“First is actually just finding product that we can sell. Second one would the cost of those products. So, we’re all experiencing from a 30-50% increase in product (cost), and then the third of course would be our staffing,” said Arnold.

In a survey of 500 people, Tripleseat, a sales and event management platform, found that 66% say their workplace plans to host a holiday celebration this year. Of those, 84% plan an in-person gathering.

For Arnold, the surge in food costs is a challenge that comes with the otherwise welcome news.

“I used to pay $47 for a case of chicken. I’m paying $77 for a case of chicken. Turkeys last year were between $0.99 and 1$.09 a pound; they’re between $1.49 and $1.89 a pound. All of my plastic goods have doubled in price. The prices on everything is just shooting through the roof,” said Arnold.

Arnold remains hopeful that companies will choose to have holiday parties this year, compared to last.

“Personally, 2020 was heartbreaking. There were many, many times I was wondering if we were going to survive it and make it through it; considering that catering is the major source of our income. The catering needed to be there and it needed to come back,” said Arnold.

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