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Updated Jan 2024

Catering Industry Statistics

Results from the 2023 International Caterers Association (ICA) industry survey.

Stats graphic with diverse people

The 2023-2024 data is in! Each year, the International Caterers Association (ICA) asks members to complete a survey. The purpose? To better understand the state of the catering industry. And the results are the most up-to-date catering statistics available.

This year, the ICA heard from over 70 caterers of every size, representing every region of the United States

In this definitive catering industry report, you’ll learn:

  1. How we collect data
  2. The state of the catering industry
  3. How much money catering businesses make
  4. Size of the average catering company
  5. The 2024 industry outlook
  6. Catering staffing statistics and industry averages
  7. The best way to find catering leads
  8. Diet trends
  9. The most popular catering social media platforms
  10. The best catering software
  11. What’s the International Caterers association
  12. Lots more

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

section 1

The definitive source for catering industry statistics

First, let’s talk about the data. Who responded to the survey?

Caterers by region in 2023

Our statistics come directly from catering business owners. As you’ll see in this report, you can start a successful catering company anywhere. 

Now let’s jump into the findings.

section 2

2023 was a great year for the catering industry

Alright, so how did the industry perform in 2023?

The majority of catering companies grew in 2023, but the picture is a little less rosy than last year.

Here’s the deal:  

  • 68% of catering companies grew in 2023.  
    • ↓ That’s DOWN from 2022, when 92% of caterers experienced revenue growth. 
  • 32% of catering companies shrunk in 2023.
    • ↑ That’s 4x UP from 2022, when just 8% of caterers experienced revenue decline.

That said, less growth in 2023 makes sense when you consider that 2022 was a record year for many caterers who experienced a post-COVID rebound.

Catering company sales figures 2023 graph

We also wanted to know what types of events are driving growth. Are weddings still the largest growth driver? What about corporate?

In what will be great news for many:

48% of catering companies reported corporate catering (all types) as the largest driver of growth in 2023.

Corporate catering is officially the #1 driver of growth for catering companies.

Largest area of growthPercentage
Corporate: Full-service, staffed events34%
All Other Events14%
Corporate: Delivery & drop-off Weddings13%
Galas & Non-profits8%

Weddings remain strong and were the primary source of revenue growth for 31% of caterers.

Another shocker:

When it comes to total revenue in 2023, corporate events overtook weddings as the largest source of revenue for catering companies. This is massive growth from 2022, when corporate events accounted for just about 25% of business.

Catering revenue streams by event type graph

While the look of corporate events may not be the same and total sales aren’t back to pre-COVID levels, this remains a great sign for the future of corporate catering 💪. 

section 3

How much do catering businesses make?

Some caterers run small businesses with <$250k per year in annual revenue. However, there are plenty of large companies with revenues of $10m+. 

However, most catering companies are right in the middle: 

52% of catering companies make between $1m and $7.5m per year in annual sales.

Catering statistics graph: catering company size by annual sales 2023
section 4

Average catering company size

We also wanted to know: how big is the average catering company in terms of staff?

Here’s a breakdown of catering company size by number of employees.


  • 37% of catering companies have between 1–10 full-time staff. 
  • 82% of caterers have fewer than 50 full-time employees.


  • 44% of caterers have between 1–30 part-time staff.
  • 20% of caterers have more than 100 part-time employees.
Catering company size by employees graph
Icon showing upward movement
section 5

2024 Industry Outlook

After a solid 2023, we asked caterers to share predictions for 2024.

Good news!

85% of caterers predict that business will be up in 2024. 🎉

2024 catering sales prediction chart

We know from past surveys that predictions tend to be fairly accurate. 

  • 2023 prediction: 78% of caterers predicted growth
  • 2023 result: 68% of caterers grew

The ongoing return of corporate catering and weddings is expected to drive growth.

Of course, the best growth is profitable growth.

So we also asked a few caterers:

“What is your biggest tip for increasing profitability in 2024?”

Here’s what business owners recommend:

  • Raise your prices. The simplest way to boost revenue 10%? Raise prices 10%. In 2023, nearly all caterers raised prices. As one caterer reported, “We were slower to do this, and it hurt.”
  • Say no. Look at your events and figure out where you actually make money. While saying no may hurt revenue (…and ego), it’s good for what matters most: profit.
  • Answer emails fast. The faster you respond, the more likely you are to win the business.
  • Offer exclusive upgrades. Find upgrades that are in demand and simple to do. 

Key takeaway: Raise prices if you haven’t already, but don’t be greedy.

section 6

Staffing is easier than last year but still a challenge

No surprise, staffing remains difficult: 

42% of caterers report that staffing is the biggest challenge. And just 14% of caterers report being well-staffed moving into 2024. 

In other words:

86% of catering companies are understaffed. 

However, this is a significant improvement over last year:

  • ↓ Caterers who agree staffing is the biggest business challenge
    • 2023: 42%
    • 2022: 80%
  • ↑ Percentage of caterers that are well-staffed
    • 2023: 14%
    • 2022: 10%

Where exactly are caterers understaffed?

  • 40% of catering companies are understaffed in operations, which includes servers, planners, and front of house management. 
  • 30% of caterers need more chefs and cooks in the culinary department.
Most understaffed departmentPercentage
We’re well staffed14%

What’s more, caterers are struggling to find staff despite significant pay increases for the second year in a row!

  • In 2023, 92% of caterers increased pay.
  • In 2022, 98% of caterers increased pay.

And for the most part, the raises were significant: 

  • 55% of caterers increased wages by more than 6%.
  • 10% of caterers increased wages by more than 16%.
Chart: Catering salary trends for full and part-time employees 2023
section 7

Most leads come from great service

Flashback: Where do leads come from?

In last year’s survey (2022), we asked, “What has worked for you in finding new clients or generating leads?”

Our goal was to identify simple tips that you can copy. And while the survey is now old, the lessons still apply today, so we want to share them with you. 

1) Word of mouth

No surprise here, but the real question is, what makes great word of mouth happen? Our respondents identified three keys to good word of mouth:

  • Respond quickly to leads. The data shows again and again that the quicker you respond to leads, the more likely you are to win the business. Set up a process to respond to leads in under 5 minutes.
  • Communicate frequently and proactively. Short messages throughout the planning process build trust and position your company as a helpful resource—instead of an annoying vendor.
  • Train staff well and deliver a high service standard. Whether you’re serving BBQ or a plated meal, professional etiquette makes a difference. 

2) Relationships

For many caterers, venue and vendor relationships are the most significant source of new leads.

3) Digital marketing

Specifically, caterers mentioned reviews and SEO (showing up in Google) as key drivers of new leads. Reviews are the best place to start in digital marketing. The more reviews you get, the more likely you are to win business. What’s more, reviews will boost your SEO and bring more traffic to your website.

Key takeaway: Most catering companies are so event-focused that they skip marketing basics. If you can do two simple things in 2023: respond quickly to leads and ask for reviews. You will get more leads.

Now, Back to the 2023 Data

So that’s where leads come from, but this year we wanted to know—how far in advance are events booking?

Here’s what the data shows:

Weddings booked in advance 2023 graph

80% of weddings are booked between 5 and 12 months in advance. And 12% of weddings are booked over a year out.

Of course, we also had to understand the corporate events side of the business.

2023 corporate events booked in advance chart

When it comes to corporate, 78% of events are booked between 3 and 5 months in advance, while 36% of events are booked more than 5 months in advance.

We also saw the percentage of same-month bookings decrease from a high of 29% in 2022 to 18% in 2023. 

All positive signs that corporate catering is approaching a new normal.

section 8

Most caterers can accommodate any diet

Demand for vegetarian and gluten-free catering remains strong. 

And the majority of caterers are right on trend!

Over 95% of caterers are happy to cook for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free diets.

Catering company diet accommodation graph
section 9

The most popular social media platforms

We found that Facebook and Instagram remain the dominant social media platforms for caterers. 

Surprisingly, the number of catering companies active on TikTok decreased from a high of 22% in 2022 to 14% in 2023.

Most popular social media platforms for caterers in 2023 graph

Our guess is that after experimenting in 2022, caterers realized the challenge of TikTok. 

Whereas you can still get away with posting simple pictures and captions on Facebook and Instagram, TikTok requires creativity and video. And this is much harder to automate and outsource.

On that note, while you can still get away with posting captioned photos on FB and Instagram, consumer expectations are rising. To get the most out of these platforms in 2024, you need to think more about how to incorporate creative video and authentic storytelling. 

Here are a few catering companies that are doing social media the right way for 2024:

Key takeaway: Social media expectations will be higher in 2024. To get the most out of socials, find ways to incorporate more creative video and authentic storytelling.

Now, how often should you post on social media?

Caterers social media post frequency 2023 chart

Our analysis: As managers of 100+ catering social media accounts, we see 2x/week posting as the minimum effective dose. This is enough to show potential customers who’ve already seen your website that you’re a trustworthy, active company. However, to drive customer acquisition through social media, we recommend posting more often, and again, evolving from captioned photos to creative video!

section 10

The best catering software

New for this year, we asked caterers, “What catering software do you use to manage your company?”

The most popular catering software? Total Party Planner, with second place going to Caterease. TripleSeat, in the “other” category, ranked three.

Chart of most popular catering software
section 11

Who is the ICA?

The International Caterers Association has over 1200 member catering companies across the globe. ICA members regularly meet both in-person and online to get help on their biggest problems like staffing.

The value of membership speaks for itself! 72% of the ICA have been members for over four years.

ICA membership length 2023 graph

We asked members what they value most about the ICA. Here’s what members have to say:

Chart: International Caterers Association benefits

Caterers gain a lot of value from the ICA’s webinars, networking and Facebook Roundtable.

Key takeaway: Join the ICA. It’s worth it! Most members stay members for life, and the networking benefits are invaluable.

section 11


We (Nuphoriq) would like to thank the ICA for collecting this data and sharing it with the world. 

And of course, the ICA members who responded to the survey deserve thanks from all of us!

Our Data & Authors
  • International Caterers Association logo
    The International Caterers Association collects this data from it’s 1200+ members each year.
  • Nuphoriq logo
    Nuphoriq is a catering marketing agency and ICA partner.

Join the ICA

The International Caterers Association has over 1200 member catering companies across the globe.

Join the ICA