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Corporate catering must transform to a hybrid model

A historical model, now obsolete

When we think of company canteens, images of self-service, huge, cold rooms in neon-lit basements spontaneously spring to mind. It is true that the canteen has evolved in recent years to offer a more pleasant environment and greater variety in its menus, but its status as a “frozen place” remains and clearly no longer arouses the enthusiasm of employees. The latter prefer to fall back on the new offers proposed by Deliveroo, Just Eat, Frichti & Co. Between having your favourite meal delivered to the office, bringing your own Lunch Bag, or going down to the -1, queuing at the canteen to finally eat a tasteless meal in the speed: the choice is quickly made!

What was, just a few years ago, the place of conviviality par excellence within the company is nowadays abandoned in favour of new catering methods. Especially since the widespread use of telecommuting makes it difficult for managers to predict the number of diners each day. In these conditions, maintaining a structure as heavy and costly as a company restaurant, requiring both a lot of space and staff, seems incongruous.

Offering appropriate catering throughout the day

But should employees be left to rely solely on delivery services? That would be a mistake. Firstly, because this represents a relatively high personal cost for employees on a daily basis. Secondly, because food remains an important vector of social ties and, by acting on this lever, management maintains proximity and conviviality within its organisation.

On the other hand, with the multiplication of social times in the company and the increasingly collaborative dimension of projects, this catering cannot remain in one place and only be accessible between 12 noon and 2pm. The challenge now is to manage all the moments of sharing around it: breakfast, coffee breaks, lunch and snacks.

The offer is therefore more flexible and adapts throughout the day. In the morning, small snack areas on each floor of the building offer pastries, fruit juice and coffee. In the afternoon, fresh fruit, cakes and tea are available for those who are feeling a bit peckish or for a gourmet break between two meetings.

At lunchtime, there is a warm, comfortable and designer space, designed around a salad bar and connected fridges, to which ready-made dishes adapted to new consumer trends and the tastes of working people are delivered every morning. These are all places scattered throughout the company’s premises, where employees can take pleasure in relaxing, meeting and exchanging ideas.

Hybrid catering: the future of collective catering

This hybrid offer considerably reduces the personnel and structural costs associated with traditional company catering, since everything is outsourced. Above all, it meets the expectations of employees who want to take advantage of friendly relaxation areas, as well as a varied and quality food offer at any time of the day.

While the traditional company canteen is still relevant for very large sites with more than 1,000 employees, below this threshold, hybrid models, which are currently mainly driven by start-ups, will clearly take over in the coming years.

This evolution is inevitable and all the players in the corporate catering sector must rapidly transform themselves in this direction or risk seeing their market share collapse. What is certain is that in the short term, new European champions who have created and adopted this hybrid catering will perform well. The result is a market estimated at 9 billion euros, which it would be a shame to miss out on.

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