activity returns to the green for the first time since 2020

On-site catering is notably at its highest level of attendance since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

After more than two years of difficulties, the restoration finally comes out of the water. Sector activity turned positive again in May, according to Food Service Vision’s analysis, “for the first time since the start of the health crisis“, in early 2020. It accelerated by 4% in value last month compared to May 2019, indicates the latest “Strategic Review” of the consulting and study firm specializing in out-of-home consumption, which has just been carried out. .

A figure that rises to +7% for commercial catering alone. Collective catering, i.e. canteens and other self-service outlets, “still stay behindnotes Food Service Vision. “Mainly due to teleworking“, comments François Blouin, president and founder of the firm. For their part, food businesses (bakeries, pastry shops, butchers-caterers, etc.), which had already resisted well during the health crisis, “continue their positive momentum with growth of 12% in May“.

This resumption of activity, François Blouin explains it by a set of factors. Firstly, “people are back in restaurants, since 96% of French people who frequented a restaurant before the health crisis returned there over the period February-May, the highest level ever“says the expert.

Lifting of restrictions and favorable weather

Added to this is “the pleasure engine“: “despite the war in Ukraine and the political crisis, consumers want to rediscover conviviality, exchange, which has benefited table catering and bars“. On-site catering is at its highest level of attendance since the start of the health crisis: 84% in May, compared to, for example, 68% in February. “This is combined with take-out and delivery consumption which is taking hold, after having developed strongly during the crisis.“, adds François Blouin, who also underlines the role of the stimulus of European and North American tourism in the recovery.

“We see that working people make more use of the bowl, the lunch box, in short the meal prepared at home or bought in supermarkets. »

François Blouin, president and founder of Food Service Vision

The favorable context has something to do with these phenomena. The firm cites in its report the lifting of health restrictions linked to Covid-19, the return to normal for trade shows and fairs, or even the favorable weather and the positive results of the Easter holidays.

As for consumption in the workplace, it benefits from the “return of assets to the office(91% in May 2022, against
83% a year earlier). The latest data from Dares, dated March, indicated that the proportion of teleworkers had fallen further and returned that month to a level close to that of November 2021.

Higher costs passed on to menus

For this type of consumption,we see that working people make more use of the bowl, the lunch box, in short the meal prepared at home or bought in supermarkets“, notes François Blouin. Nearly six out of ten meals are now bought in supermarkets or prepared at home, compared to five out of ten three months ago, reports the Food Service Vision study. An evolution “due to concerns about purchasing power», Estimates François Blouin, in a strongly inflationary context. The increase in the price level reached +5.2% over one year in May, according to INSEE.

For food alone, the increase amounts to +4.2%. This is the same proportion as that applied by independent restaurateurs on their menu since February, according to a survey carried out by the GNI (National Group of Independents) and Food Service Vision.

A raise “refractory“, judge François Blouin, in view of the cost increases that the restoration undergoes. The increases are particularly significant for certain products, in particular mustard (+23.9% in the second quarter), beef (+28.2%) and French fries (+14.6%). Thus, the cost of materials for a fast food restaurant, for example, increased by 20% between October 2021 and April 2022, and by 9% for a pizzeria.

If the summer looks bright for the sector, according to François Blouin, due to positive signals on the tourist season to come, “the big unknown concerns the start of the new school year“, he judges. “We will accumulate inflation which will have risen again, political uncertainty which will weigh on decisions and economic dynamics, and we will still feel the consequences of the Chinese crisis and the war in Ukraine.“, he lists. Not to mention the threat of a new wave of Covid-19 likely to be caused by its new variants.

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