The contract catering sector is both directly and indirectly affected by many aspects of European legislation. To effectively overcome the predominant socio-economic challenges facing Europe and ensure sustainable growth, FoodServiceEurope focuses on key issues of relevance.
Public Procurement & Concessions
A significant number of public and private bodies subcontract their catering services to specialised companies, amounting to over 6 billion meals being delivered in Europe each year. Past trends have shown that, due to budgetary restrictions, cost-cutting policies and other factors, many of these bodies resort to awarding the contract catering company that submits the lowest bid, rather than the company offering the best quality/price ratio.
FoodServiceEurope believes that awarding catering contracts on the basis of price alone is damaging to the sector and to the European economy as a whole. This practice can incentivise companies to reduce costs as much as possible, sometimes to the detriment of the quality of the meals and services provided. Awarding catering contracts at the lowest price can be detrimental to the promotion of healthy and sustainable diets, a vital consideration which should serve as the basis for meals provided in schools, universities, hospitals etc.
Public procurement legislation and policies have the potential to enable, or hinder, contract caterers’ ability to compete in the procurement market on a level playing field and to deliver their commitment to provide healthy and sustainable food. FoodServiceEurope works at EU level to establish an appropriate legislative framework in order to ensure the best value for money in public procurement and concession contracts and the best possible conditions for the provision of high quality catering services.
|Position on the Reform of the EU Public Procurement Directive (March 2013).pdf|
The European contract catering sector delivers over 6 billion meals each year, equating to 67 million consumers served every day, or one in four meals eaten outside the home. With such a strong presence in the everyday lives of Europeans, issues such as VAT can have a profound and widespread impact on contract catering sector, its employees and its customers, affecting its competitiveness.
Reduced VAT rates
Reduced VAT rates for food services enable contract caterers to provide high quality meals at an affordable price, which can lead to healthier and more sustainable diets. Due to the labour intensity of the contract catering sector, reduced VAT rates also result in increased employment and thus, higher income tax revenues. Evidence from several countries, including France, Belgium and Ireland, has shown a positive effect of reduced VAT rates on employment in the contract catering sector.
VAT exemptions in the public sector
VAT exemptions for the public sector have the potential to affect the competitiveness and profitability of the contract catering sector in two major ways:
Via direct competition: Recent trends have shown that public bodies are increasingly taking up functions traditionally performed by the private sector in parallel to private companies moving into traditionally public sectors, such as education and healthcare. Whilst this direct competition between public and private bodies is becoming more frequent, VAT exemptions for the public sector are negatively distorting the markets shared between the two.
By reducing the incentive for public bodies to outsource supporting activities: Due to exemptions, public bodies enjoy lower costs of input compared to VAT-paying private bodies. This price differential tips the scales in favour of performing services in-house instead of outsourcing. The result is a decrease in competition and innovation and ultimately a decrease in efficiency as, other factors being equal, a specialised company would have the necessary resources and expertise to provide a service more effectively and at a lower cost.
Removing such exemptions can eliminate distortions to competition and restore a level playing field for private and public actors. It can also have a positive effect on the European economy overall by encouraging increased efficiency and innovation.
|Response to the EU public consultation on the Review of Existing Legislation on VAT Reduced Rates (January 2013) EN.pdf|
|Position on VAT Reform (May 2012).pdf|
Contract caterers aim to provide healthy and sustainable diets to their 67 million daily consumers, the majority of whom are found in schools, universities, hospitals etc. The sector is committed to providing the best quality services and work to ensure that the specificities of contract catering activities are taken in due account in the shaping of EU consumer policy.
Food information to consumers
Contract caterers strive to provide the most relevant and accurate nutritional information to the end consumers, despite the constraints created by the nature of its activities. FoodServiceEurope supports its members’ efforts with regard to implementing measures on food information to consumers by national authorities and industry guidance at national level.
Food Hygiene and Safety
Contract caterers have always been at the forefront of safe food handling and processing, which is reflected in the use of state-of-the-art technology and training. Contract caterers aim to ensure the highest standards of hygiene and food safety and are committed to ensuring that its meals continue to represent the safest and healthiest food in Europe. This is extremely important for the sector due to the demographic of its end consumers; sometimes vulnerable groups such as young children, patients in hospitals and elderly communities.
Fight against obesity
Contract caterers acknowledge their role in the fight against obesity and the wider debate on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. The industry’s key objective is to provide nutritionally balanced meals to its end-consumers, whilst respecting the demand for great taste and culinary traditions. FoodServiceEurope recognises the need for a global strategy on healthy lifestyles and is fully committed to playing a role in this process.
FoodServiceEurope is an active member of the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health and has an on-going commitment in this area.
|Brochure Healthy Eating for a Better Life - Contract Catering Fights against Obesity.pdf|
|Position Paper on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers (2008).pdf|
|European Guide to Good Practise for Food Hygiene in the Contract Catering Sector (May 2009).pdf|
The contract catering sector understands its responsibility in safeguarding the environment and plays a key role in promoting sustainable consumption and production. It is committed to improving the environmental performance of its operations and providing customers with healthy and sustainable meals.
European contract catering companies are taking important steps to reduce resource inputs and increase the efficiency of their operations, using for example, energy and water reduction measures, as well as improving stock control in order to prevent food waste and rolling out consumer awareness programmes. Packaging reduction programmes are also being implemented through agreements with suppliers as are greenhouse gas emission reduction programmes from transport.
Food waste occurs at every stage of the food chain, including in the contract catering sector. Food Service Europe members are very active in reducing food waste and sharing good practices.
FoodServiceEurope is a member of the of the EU Food Losses and Food Waste Platform. We have also signed the joint food wastage declaration, Every Crumb Counts.
To disseminate best practices in the fight against food waste, FoodServiceEurope has created a database of case studies from the contract catering industry. The presentation provides an overview of various initiatives developed by FoodServiceEurope Members and Associate Members, offering a range of successful ways to limit the scope of the food waste problem, as well as raise awareness among key stakeholders and change behavioural patterns.
|Food waste reduction - Case studies from the contract catering industry|