Year: 2021

Foodservices Round-Up: Food, People and Technology Trends in 2021

“The world has changed. Coronavirus has seen to that. Counting on a quick return to business as usual is not a viable strategy. The shock of the pandemic and future behaviours can’t be ignored. Whatever the path forward, companies need to think strategically and plan for a new normal”.

This is what PricewaterhouseCoopers was writing at the end of 2020, which feels like a lifetime ago.

Having supported corporate clients – all global organisations – throughout the last year and a half, TAF Catering Consultancy now reflects on what’s in store for foodservices for the rest of 2021.

However, before concentrating on future developments, we’d like to summarise “the story so far”.

The Before: January 2021

Defining Moment: Due to changing working patterns and a staggered, highly regulated return to work, caterers evolved their workplace offer around shorter working weeks and immune/energy boosting menus allowing better control of food waste.

  1. Food | Whilst traditional B&I was at a standstill, with lockdown three underway, contract caterers concentrated business development efforts in key sectors that were unaffected by the pandemic: cleaning, security, healthcare, education, and supply chain.
  2. People | Redundancies affected operators to various degrees, depending on caterers’ size and core business. The UK accommodation and food services sector had the highest number of employees furloughed, with London recording the highest uptake (27%). (source:
  3. Technology | Innovation around techdine was at an all-time high, accelerating the digital transformation through App development and tech-enabled, flexible, delivered-in catering.

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TAF Tells Facilitate Magazine Staff Shortages caused by Departing Overseas Workforce & Furlough Hangover

Tracey Fairclough, managing director of TAF Catering Consultancy, commented in Facilitate Magazine today, saying: “There’s no doubt to my mind our hospitality sector has experienced unprecedented and severe labour shortages since the sector reopened following lockdown. This is due in part to workers from overseas leaving the UK to return to their home countries either because of Brexit or the coronavirus pandemic. Then there’s the furlough ‘hangover’ where a lot of people have now got other jobs to keep themselves going and are not coming back to the industry. This has been frustrating for many of the caterers we’ve been talking to.”

CLICK here for the full article NOW: Catering and Hospitality Hit Staff Shortages 2021.


City-based solicitors Bates Wells said, last week, shortages in the sector could hit ‘crisis levels’ following the post-Brexit deadline for EU citizens to apply for settled status in the UK on 30 June, saying: “EEA [European Economic Area] workers comprise 7.3% of the UK’s working population. The June 30th deadline will create enormous problems for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors. These businesses are already seeing severe labour shortages. This is set to get significantly worse.”


TAF Catering Consultancy know, having engaged by talking directly to 40 caterers in the last 6 weeks alone, that Nine in 10 caterers are already facing staff shortages this year.

Daily Business Group also reports similar results and, from a recent poll:

  • 51% anticipate shortages in all roles and
  • 39% were concerned about back of house roles only.

All of these signs reinforce widespread concerns about the current crisis in hospitality recruitment as trading restrictions ease.


Why? We’re simply people with huge passions for our industry and chefs in it… and have a “can do” approach.

We’re reaching out, having commissioned a talented illustrator we know to create two posters for us to SHARE, to help rebuild our Hospitality sector by inspiring those outside and inside to join.

We see life simply: a picture pairs a thousand words. Have a look at the attached and see what you think?

As time is precious and you’re likely to be juggling many balls, besides actions speak louder than words…

Please help us by posting or sharing both these posters adding your own personal (inspirational) message to inspire ANYONE, who might be in your network, to join our wonderful hospitality sector (and/or ask them to SHARE the posters).

Perhaps we’ll meet someday if for a proper chat about this and other things.

In the mean time, thanks for listening and hope to be able to thank you some day for your support.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

Best Wishes and Keep safe.

Tracey Fairclough | Managing Director

#hospitality #chefs # foodservice #restaurants #taftalkshospitality #contractcatering #foodservices #events #workplacecatering #UKreopening

Weathering The Storm (A Catering Consultant’s Story)


Whilst Boris Johnson last night confirmed a four-week delay to the lifting of all restrictions in England beyond 21 June, the new date for lifting the restrictions now set for 19 July, the worlds of Facilities, Contract Catering, Foodservices and Hospitality should not lose hope.

Yes the UK hospitality does face a jobs crisis, in the aftermath of the typhoon coronavirus pandemic; but the reason hospitality will pick up is because drastic times call for drastic measures and change is happening. 

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A New Dawn of Catering Consultancy: My First Two Years at TAF

June 2021 is a special month for me, as it marks my first two years as a consultant at TAF (15 months of which during a global pandemic).

For those who don’t know me already, I would describe myself as follows:

  1. One of the few UK female consultants;
  2. A member of the LGBTQ+ community;
  3. A British citizen by naturalisation.

I’ve been living in London for over 10 years and worked in hospitality throughout my whole career. I love this industry and I am not planning on leaving it anytime soon. I only wish more people felt the same.

Since indoor hospitality reopened on May 17th, we’ve been hearing worrying news about hospitality staff shortages across the country. A recent survey by UK Hospitality revealed that the vacancy rate across the sector is 9% – a total shortage of circa. 190,000 workers, especially in Front of House and Chef positions. *1  


And why would that be? Obvious reasons aside – Brexit and a global pandemic causing people to go back to their countries of origin or changing sector altogether – there’s a more deeply rooted issue within British society (and many others): hospitality has never been considered a “career of choice”.

Hospitality is one of the industries with the highest turnover and is perceived by the general public as “unskilled”. For younger UK generations, hospitality is usually a stopgap career and for foreigners, it represents the proverbial “foot in the door” while getting used to life in a different country. I believe that’s simply unfair.

A career in hospitality deserves as much care and attention as any other sector, both from an employer and employee point of view. It should not mean stressfully long hours and poor working conditions, it should not mean low pay rates, it should not mean precarious contracts.

The point I am trying to make is very simple: I am living proof that focus, commitment and resilience go a long way, and you can really achieve your self-actualisation goals in this wonderful industry.

Focus. Commitment. Resilience. Interesting word choice. Why? Because that’s exactly what the contract catering world (and each of the 40 caterers in our network) demonstrated during these challenging times. They shaped the future of the workplace catering industry (more on this later).

It was an absolute delight to resume non-project related site visits a couple of weeks ago, meeting again face to face with the best and the brightest, the engine of our industry.

What did TAF Catering Consultancy do in return? To answer this question, I’d like to borrow TAF’s mission statement: listening, collaborating, delivering.

  1. We listened | We listened to our clients, supporting them throughout and helping them answer the questions: “How has the market changed? How does it look like today? What do we do next with our foodservices?” The nature of our work has changed as a result, and we are engaging more and more with senior stakeholders, to establish at a corporate level what food/foodservices mean to them and a baseline for a more fit-for-purpose approach to deliver relevant, reliable and timely catering services contracts.
  2. We collaborated | We embraced the “virtual world” and engaged with caterers (having regular conversations at least three times a year), fellow consultants, specialist collaborators (from executive chefs to HR experts) and industry publications – writing thought-provoking articles, trying to make sense of it all.
  3. We delivered | Originally focussing on London corporate organisations by choice, TAF adapted and evolved too, taking on several new projects for essential services clients – none in London and none in B&I. Tracey and I strongly believe a brighter future awaits for all of us, and we look forward to keep breaking the boundaries of traditional consultancy, making our mark along the way.

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TAF’s Top 10 Tips for Seamless Client Communication and Collaboration

COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed workplace practices and dynamics beyond all recognition and brought about substantial change in the way people work. We’ve heard it many times, but what does it really mean?

According to a survey published by the BBC last week, over 80% of the 50 UK’s biggest employers said they are not planning to bring staff back to the office full-time but embrace a mix of home and office working instead, with staff encouraged to work from home two to three days a week. (source:

With shorter working weeks on the horizon for the UK working population – Thursday appearing to be the new Friday – TAF Catering Consultancy asks: how can organisations guarantee operations run seamlessly and business objectives are met?

We believe it all comes down to effective communication and collaboration. In this era of virtual employee relations, communication is the most important factor that influences success. Implementing practices that promote effective workplace conversations is critical to producing results, as poor practices could cause organisations to miss deadlines and, even worse, lose revenue.

What does this mean to foodservices? The answer is simple: when you learn how to achieve seamless communication/collaboration internally and externally, the impact on catering operations can only be positive, especially in terms of managing client’s expectations and delivering first class service.

Having recently supported an essential services client with operations spanning across the UK, TAF Catering Consultancy understands the challenges both clients and suppliers are facing and has developed a “10 Top tips to a seamless collaboration process”.

Top 10 Tips for seamless communication

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A New Breed of Collaborative Catering Consultancy Post-Covid: Preparing for Hospitality Reopening Today

The day has finally come where restaurants and pubs are allowed to reopen their doors in England and Wales, as Covid rules are easing across the UK.

TAF Catering Consultancy has worked tirelessly, behind the scenes, to support clients, and have prepared 8 staff restaurants in reopening to a brighter, safer world post Covid.

It was a full-on ten weeks collaborating with our 9-strong team of project managers: an executive chef, a food safety expert, a HR expert, a brand technician, 24/7 art workers, a production and installation team and an equipment specialist. We reached out to all the lovely men and women in our network and we are proud to have had them on board. This makes us trust more than ever: 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

Here’s to a more engaged post pandemic world of hospitality!

If you need some support to help shape your future dining prospects, please do reach out to us – we’ve a team of merry men and women ready to nurture you across your starting line.

TAF wishes all the best to the venues reopening this week.

#contractcatering #foodservices #hospitality #events #workplacecatering #projectteam #projectmanagement#facilitiesmanagement #UKreopening

TAF Catering Consultancy Talk About Taking To The Road post-COVID-19

What a month February 2021 has been, with TAF taking to the road to support a nationwide essential service provider; whose employees have tirelessly been putting one foot in front of each other and every day for the last year, to serve the nation.

Proud of the appointment, TAF has – without doubt – experienced some challenges. A road trip and a series of site visits, in post COVID-19 times, is something quite different, to what it might have been this time before. Having been, like most people, confined to the safety and security of our own homes, protection of mind and body were key.

For this reason, we armed ourselves with the right kind of kit to protect ourselves, our team and our client(s); COVID-19 lateral flow tests, masks, gloves, visors, the appropriate protective clothing and a whole lot of positive mental attitude.

So, with this short post, our advice – with the roadmap for lifting lockdown setting out stage two (no earlier than 12 April) for shops, restaurants and pub gardens to serve customers sitting outdoors – we ask you to remember to be kind to yourselves when setting foot back out in the big wide world – it can be daunting, but with the right protective measures and positive mental attitude… anything is possible, as we step back out into, what is clearly, a changed post COVID-19 world.

Look forward to seeing you on the other side!


2021 Foodservice Life Changers

This January, TAF Catering Consultancy reached out to the 43 caterers in their network to find out how they are doing and how they are supporting clients with their return to work strategies. Here’s a summary of our findings.

2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as the most challenging year for foodservices. Hospitality has been deeply affected by challenging circumstances, with over half a million people losing their jobs, and furlough a “saving grace” for most UK foodservice businesses.

As 2021 is now well underway, TAF Catering Consultancy has reached out to all 43 caterers in our network to understand how they’re doing and how they are shaping up for the year ahead.

Why? The contract catering market is moving and evolving, driven by 2 key factors:

  1. Back to Work Strategies| In preparation for the lifting of restrictions, employers are developing their return to work strategy, with a focus on employee re-engagement, health & wellbeing, safety. For this reason, caterers appear to be liaising more and more with the HR function within organisations, as they are in a prime position to support them with a bespoke catering offer.
  2. Foodservice Options | Businesses are investigating their staff feeding options for 2021 and beyond, as their catering contracts come to an end or simply because they are not completely satisfied with their current service provider.

We’ve been inspired by the caterers’ resilience, positivity and good work, despite all the challenges, which bode well for 2021 and beyond. Each caterer outlined a different approach to business continuity and client relationship management. Our key findings are summarised below.

Part A: Business Performance

Caterers performance to date appears to be highly dependent on the key sectors they operate in:

  1. Some expanded their business model based on a blended approach, with catering being only one element of a wider offer that includes cleaning, reception and security.
  2. Some focussed on pre-existing business streams that were not affected by the ongoing crisis such as healthcare, education, care homes & assisted living.
  3. Others have not diversified their revenue streams or pivoted alternative foodservice solutions but stuck with their core B&I business, developing solutions for clients on a case-by-case basis.

Part B: A Common Thread

From our conversations, TAF have established 5 recurring trends:

  1. Key Sectors | Market presence in sectors such as cleaning, security, healthcare & education have proven instrumental in generating a profit, while B&I clients aren’t operating.
  2. Innovation | 2020 was characterised by unparalleled levels of foodservice innovation, from digital transformation through App development, to virtual engagement programs, to caterer-run, flexible delivered in services.
  3. Furlough | Redundancies and restructuring have occurred across the board, with variable numbers of team members involved, based on the caterer size and core business. Almost all caterers have benefitted from furlough and flexi furlough to meet flexible foodservice requirements effectively.
  4. Catering Teams Engagement | Engagement programs were created to support redundant/temporarily unemployed staff in their job search and to facilitate re-hiring once business levels go back to normal, from in-house staffing agencies to career advice initiatives.
  5. A New Working Week | Long before 2020, the UK Government was encouraging the uptake of flexible working practices in the workplace. The trend was undoubtedly accelerated by the pandemic and it is now a permanent feature of employees working weeks.
  • After months of homeworking, employees seem eager to return to the workplace, and foodservices will play an integral part in their experience, as they help boost productivity and a sense of community.
  • As working patterns have changed and the return to work is staggered, most caterers are adapting their services around a shorter working week, which will see building occupancy rise Tuesday to Thursday.
  • Spend per head also appears to be affected by these new working practices, with customers enticed by the staff restaurant food offer after months spent catering for themselves. For this reason, caterers are developing fit-for-purpose menus striking a balance between healthy and indulgent, whilst controlling food waste effectively.

 On a Final Note…

Whilst 2021 didn’t probably start as expected, with risk management still being very much at the top of the agenda for corporate organisations, TAF do believe the contract catering panorama has been forever changed and re-shaped by this defining moment in our history.

With so many different options on the market at the moment, TAF looks forward to working with corporate organisations to bring them the best, most fit for purpose solutions for their foodservices moving forward.

#workplace #contractcatering #contractcaterers #returntowork #foodservices #foodservice #workplacecatering #facilitiesmanagement

TAF Catering Consultancy Tells Facilitate Magazine COVID is Game-Changer for UK Contract Catering

Tracey Fairclough, managing director and senior consultant at TAF Catering Consultancy, welcomed the (Coverpoint) comprehensive report. She told Facilitate that the pandemic was “a game changer” for the profession and there was bound to be more focus on employee wellbeing. “For instance, food services in companies are talking more to FM and HR to help support the wellbeing of workers,” she said.

She added: “During the pandemic, various catering companies pivoted to make good use of ingredients and food to help charities and children.” Fairclough believes socially minded behaviour like this will continue and she also said that workplaces now had an opportunity to provide a more tailored “healthy and immune-boosting” food offer to workers that will be more in demand in the future.

CLICK here for the full article NOW: Food Industry Will Need To Cater To Workers WIth Immune Boosting Food Post Pandemic


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