While acknowledging that most caterers buy most of their items from delivered wholesale, Noel Cockle, general merchandising manager for Costco, argued that cash and carries mainly played a complementary role to delivery in the catering sector.
Looking at where caterers source their products from, Cockle said there had been little change over the last decade with delivered commanding more than 50% of the market. He said cash and carry was only a small part, and worryingly was smaller than retailers who supplied 18.5% of caterers’ needs.
He said: “How often do you go into a supermarket and see the owner of your local sandwich shop, takeaway or restaurant in there shopping for their business – this is the opportunity.”
Comparing the different temperature regimes, he said: “Cash and carry is strongest in ambient where the lower operating costs enable them to offer real value to the caterer.” In contrast, more than 75% of frozen was delivered because of the difficulties for caterers in handling frozen products from a cash and carry.
He said: “The real opportunity is in fresh and chilled where the retailers account for dramatically more than cash and carries. This opportunity has been identified by a number of cash and carry operators like Makro and ourselves.”
Cockle said that retailers were very skilled in selling fresh produce and cash and carries needed to ensure their quality was as good as, if not better than, the retailers, and that they provided products in suitable pack sizes for caterers.
Another way cash and carries could help caterers, he said, was by supplying added value products, enabling caterers to de-skill and reduce their labour costs.