Foodservice Operators Turning To Retail, Not Wholesalers, In UK, Study Finds

By Dayeeta Das
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Foodservice Operators Turning To Retail, Not Wholesalers, In UK, Study Finds

More than a third of foodservice businesses are sourcing products from supermarkets, discounters and online grocery operators, rather than the wholesale sector, a new study by HIM has found.

HIM’s UK Wholesale Market Report 2019 has found that 38% of British foodservice businesses are likely to use supermarkets or discounters to restock, while 20% use Amazon or other online channels.

Wholesale Ordering

In comparison, the grocery retail market is far more likely to use wholesale channels for restocking, with 96% of retailers ordering online for delivered wholesale, compared to just 53% of foodservice operators.

In addition, just 3% of grocery retailers restock using other supermarkets or discounters, while 8% use online channels such as Amazon.

One of the biggest frustrations cited by foodservice operators when it comes to online ordering from wholesalers is ease of use, with 55% of those that generally order by phone stating that wholesaler websites are 'not easy enough to use'.


'Missed Opportunity'

"Foodservice operators account for 74% of all delivered wholesale customers, highlighting the size of the missed opportunity from operators visiting other routes to market," commented Blonnie Walsh, senior insights manager at HIM & MCA Insight.

"There will, of course, be an element of distress top-up, however, how much are wholesalers missing out on by not having a website that is easy to navigate for foodservice operators?”

Walsh added that wholesalers need to focus on improving standards in terms of reliability and ease of ordering, in order to ensure that they retain foodservice customers.

"However, there are many other factors where importance outweighs satisfaction, so wholesalers cannot afford to take their eye away from these too," she added.


The HIM study comprised 2,095 face to face interviews conducted between June and Septrember 2019 in cash and carry depots, and 2,420 telephone interviews.

Spend Per Visit

Elsewhere, the study also found that retailer spend per visit at  cash and carry wholesalers has increased 40% since 2018, while spend per visit from foodservice operators is up 6%.

Average spend per visit from retailers at cash and carry outlets stands at £1,205 this year, compared to £858 last year, while foodservice average spend stands at £207 this year, compared to £196 last year.

© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.

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