Foodservice: How to scale a food business in the £69bn sector

4 December 2023

Foodservice might be an excellent route to market for your food or drink products. There are more than 350,000 foodservice outlets in the UK – restaurants, pubs, canteens, hotels, stations, services, and plenty more. This vast landscape offers an immense platform for food and drink brands. But it’s not just about having a mouthwatering product; there’s a whole strategy behind breaking into this dynamic sector.

Often overlooked, foodservice is a pivotal sector, especially for startup brands venturing into the market. While it may be easily disregarded, some clients have achieved remarkable success. Distributors and outlets continually seek fresh offerings, creating opportunities for new products that align with the right profile.

Watch our webinar and set your brand on the path to success within the dynamic world of foodservice.

What is Foodservice?

Foodservice encompasses the entire spectrum of preparing, serving, and delivering food and drink. It includes a wide range of establishments and venues, from quick service restaurants (QSR) such as McDonald’s and Greggs through to casual dining restaurants such as Bill’s and Pizza Express, as well as pub chains, cafes, hotel restaurants, all the way through to contract catering in hospitals, universities, airlines and trains. Essentially, foodservice encompasses all the out-of-home touchpoints where consumers purchase food and drinks – whether a quick snack on the go or a leisurely dining experience.

Why grow your brand in foodservice

The UK Foodservice market is poised to reach an estimated £134billion by 2029 , highlighting an unparalleled market potential for food and drinks brands. With a staggering 350,000 sales opportunities, surpassing the retail sector, the variety of touchpoints beyond home and retail is enormous. Building robust brand awareness early on ensures longevity in the market, a critical factor in creating the credibility needed to secure a space on the shelves of major retailers like Tesco and Waitrose.

Navigating challenges and building brand awareness

While the opportunity exists, getting into the foodservice sector is not always easy, including well-known QSRs such as Pret-a-Manger, Costa and Starbucks. Firstly, the limited space within these establishments means that strategic finesse to secure product placement amidst fierce competition is an absolute must. Secondly, navigating profitability can be intricate, with margins differing from those in the retail market.

Building a resilient brand from the outset becomes crucial in this intricate landscape. This means ensuring that you place the right product in suitable locations with maximum touchpoints to establish strong brand awareness – a key stepping stone to securing a coveted space in major retailers.

Success story: Dash’s phenomenal journey

Dash Water in FoodserviceConsider Dash Water, a product that entered the market in 2017 and has since captured 39% of the UK sparkling drinks market. Starting small, Dash was founded to use wonky fruits and vegetables that get rejected, aligning with an increasing industry focus on sustainability. Their journey began in a farm shop, gradually expanding to Amazon, Yo Sushi, Zizzi’s, Starbucks and eventually major retailers like Ocado and Sainsbury’s. Dash strategically built brand awareness before entering prominent retailers by incorporating foodservice early on with partners like Costco and British Airways. Today, they are listed in more than 10,000 stores globally.

Learn from the experts

In our recent webinar, Froghop’s Head of Development, Nell Head, explores the vast opportunities within the foodservice sector. Gain insights on adapting your product, ensuring profitability during scaling, and selecting the right wholesaler(s) for your brand.

Watch our webinar and set your brand on the path to success within the dynamic world of foodservice.