Defra’s Food Service and Eating Out: An Economic Survey (2007), defines foodservice suppliers as providers of food items to catering outlets that offer eating locations outside the home. But retailers are increasingly supplying foodservice-style products for consumption at home and the range of retail outlets offering food (eg, sandwiches), virtually indistinguishable from that of takeaways, is growing.

l The industry captures about a third of consumer expenditure on food and non-alcoholic drinks and provides one in six meals

l It employs 1.5m people - more than any other part of the food chain

l The foodservice market is split into two sectors: for profit and cost sector - its products usually sourced via a wholesaler

l For-profit catering covers restaurants, hotels and other outlets where the food is sold on to the consumer at a profit

l Cost sector catering covers locations such as hospitals, etc, where food from foodservice suppliers is provided to the consumer by the buying organisation at little or no direct cost to the end consumer