Reflecting on Catering in 2020 & the Road Ahead
December 17th, 2020
Last Christmas we did a Secret Santa in the office. I happened to get my wife, Miranda, as my gift recipient (Miranda and I co-founded the company many years ago). I got Miranda a desk calendar, where she could fold a different Origami shape for each day of the year. By March, our office was littered with little origami shapes – everyone in the team had a small collection on their desk.
As I write this almost 9 months later, Miranda’s dusty origami calendar still says Monday March 23, which was the last day we had our team in the office. Our state of Victoria, Australia had just announced a State of Emergency and all staff needed to work from home. I was terrified of what the future held, mainly for our customers and ultimately for our own business.
At first, catering sales fell off a cliff; we could see the data in our reports. 98% of scheduled orders were cancelled, and no new business was coming in for any caterer. There was genuine panic amongst our customers and our team.
After the initial shock, our customers started to try different things. Some caterers pivoted to home-delivered meals, others started selling essential food items such as fruit and milk. I was floored by the resiliency and creativity of our customers, and under very challenging times many caterers were able to stay in operation.
Our team did everything that we could to support our customers, rapidly building new product features to support new ways of doing business. In fact, our team released a record number of new product features this year; something I’m immensely proud of.
Our New Zealand customers were the first to see light at the end of the tunnel, with their country’s exceptional response to the pandemic. In fact, according to our data, catering sales in NZ are now on par with last year. If you’re wondering if catering will ever be the same, our kiwi data suggests that the answer is yes:
Elsewhere, catering sales have been making a steady comeback across our customers globally. Don’t get me wrong, I know that caterers in some regions such as my home state of Victoria are still doing it tough due to extended restrictions, but generally everything appears to be on its way back to normality:
I’m optimistic that 2021 will be a great year. As people come back together, they will want to celebrate, and I am predicting a boom in catering. Personally, I’m looking forward to having our team back in the office and hopefully Miranda can finish her origami calendar.