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Supporting street food vendors can help overcome cost barrier for workplace diners

Fuel, BaxterStorey’s street food agency, has set in place minimum spend guarantees, cancellation policies and increased minimum cost per head expectations for all vendors. The move follows the findings of a report it commissioned looking at how changing trends and customer behaviours are affecting workplace dining, contract catering and street food traders.

It found that the main barrier for people not using their workplace restaurant was cost, with just under 50 per cent of people saying price was the most important factor when choosing what to buy for lunch, spotlighting the importance of offering value for money and budget-friendly options.

The white paper, which analysed interviews with employers and street food operators as well as workplace data to understand the challenges and opportunities available to the foodservice sector found that while half (54per cent) of employers are encouraging employees back to the office just 29per cent are using free meals and/or drinks as an incentive.

Responding to the research, BaxterStorey hopes to better support regional community businesses by providing security through its platform, respecting the craft, heritage and culture these smaller operators are trying to preserve.

The commitments include:

  • Minimum spend guarantees for every booking
  • Cancellation policies (policies in place for cancelling bookings at one month, 2 weeks and week of) to protect loss of potential earnings to the trader(s)
  • Encouraging subsidised or client-paid events to ensure low-risk for traders

Fuel is also supporting clients with their back-to-office strategies via interactive pop-ups. Most recently supporting QBE with bi-weekly free lunches across their UK offices; and Warner Music Group with a monthly free lunch offer for their UK teams. This has resulted in a 385per cent increase in the number of year-on-year bookings, with year-on-year revenue growth of 57per cent (August 2022 – August 2023), highlighting the potential for employers to use creative food offerings to encourage workers back to the office.

Launched in 2018, Fuel has engaged more than 100 street food vendors across the UK, including bringing their concepts to workplace dining outlets.

Greg Bramwell, Director of Food, Baxterstorey said: “People want authentic experiences which ignite all their senses, and Fuel brings that craft, creativity, and theatre right into the workspace. Creating these memorable moments through food has great potential for employers looking to encourage people back in. It’s fresh, exciting, and gives them ability to use under-utilised office space into foodie festivals, for example, which can have a hugely positive impact on their workplace culture.

“We have a duty of care to champion this diverse segment of our industry and our latest development demonstrates our commitment to use our size and platform to protect street food operators. By providing spaces and a level of security ensures they can stay remain authentic in these challenging times for hospitality operators.”

Nick Lazardes from Cyprus Kitchen, said: “We are really delighted to see a company like BaxterStorey make these commitments to smaller businesses like ours.

“We are witnessing weekly and monthly increases in food costs and have been for 24 months. Every single ingredient we use is up. This is why we’re paying staff 20-30per cent more than we were 48 months ago. Our margins are being squeezed like never before whilst trying to maintain ‘street-food’ pricing.

“This commitment from BaxterStorey will not only help companies like ours, but will also go some way to creating sustainable business models for so many others. This can only be a good thing for individuals and the wider economy.”

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