Smorgasbord of suppliersStuart Sunderland, who founded City Pantry in 2013, tells me that around 30 per cent of employees in a building will currently use their internal catering service, compared to about 55 per cent five years ago. “The food that is provided is there because people are thinking about margins, rather than what employees might actually want to eat,” he says. It’s made harder by rapidly changing trends, not just in terms of the range of food on offer, but because consumers are more selective around things like plastic packaging and where their food is sourced, making it difficult for corporate canteens to keep up.
“We are now in this strange situation where our consumer palette is exploding and we have access to all this amazing food. But in the workplace, that hasn’t happened yet.” City Pantry is changing that, removing the logistical nightmare for event organisers, who can now order the food entirely online, without having caterers on site. The business makes money by taking a 25 per cent cut from the order, with a delivery fee on top. Employers also have more choice, and can pick and mix meals from the 450 suppliers, which include well-known chains like Leon, Itsu, Patty & Bun, Pieminister, Le Pain Quotidien, Coco Di Mama, and Chop’d. “We have a really slick delivery network to make sure that everything arrives on time,” says the Scotland-born chief executive. “And we have tools for them to manage their orders.”