Business and industry (B&I) accounted for 51% of the £3.9b UK market for contract catering in 2005, according to the latest figures from the British Hospitality Association.
Its total market share has declined since the highpoint recorded in 1991 as workplaces have become smaller and competition from shops and supermarkets has risen steadily.
Nevertheless, B&I remains the single largest market for contract caterers.The sector accounts for 41% of meals served in the contract catering market and caterers dished up 645 million meals in 2005, compared with 324 million in 1991.
The number of B&I outlets has risen from 7,775 in 1991 to 8,973 last year.
The sector is dominated by food-and-service management contracts, which account for 51% of the sector overall and 96% of the meals served.
By Angela Frewin