Food Service Industry | 3 mins read

Segments and Sectors of the Food Service Industry

segments and sectors of the food service industry 1617911827 1909
Cynthia Vespia

By Cynthia Vespia

Different Segments of the Food Service Industry

According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry remains a top employer for the United States economy. Industry trends project an increase to over 14.1 million positions in food services.

The foodservice industry is divided by the level of customer service performed and includes-

Full Service
The full-service restaurant segment ranges from casual to fine dining. The typical price at a full-service restaurant can vary anywhere between moderate and expensive depending on the cuisine type. Customers dining at a full-service restaurant are usually looking for an experience alongside great food.

Quick Service
Quick service restaurants are for those pressed for time and include fast-food restaurants and other grab n' go style options. Delivery services can also be considered a part of the quick-service industry. Quick service menus cater to different tastes by focusing on specific food types such as sandwiches, hamburgers, pizza, or tacos. Most quick-service restaurants prepare meals after the customer orders with serving times remaining swift and prices low.

Eating and Drinking Place
The eating and drinking place segment includes refreshment stands and caterers. Food at these places is usually consumed on-site. For example, a catering company would be preparing food for a company event. Unlike full service, attendees select food from a buffet-style spread. Refreshment vendors sell food for entertainment or sports venues that are pre-manufactured.

Retail Host
Gas stations, grocery marts, and even casinos have retail-host restaurants. These are part of the food supply chain of brand-name food and beverage companies such as coffee from unique brands or fast-food chains. Some convenience stores are replacing franchises with their own brand of quick-service restaurants and menu items. These locations give convenience and grocery store customers the option of freshly prepared and familiar meals that do not hurt their wallet. The food usually is not consumed at the location.

Sectors of the Food Service Industry

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The food service industry is divided into two sectors- commercial and non-commercial.

Commercial industry food service establishments accounted for location oriented food expenditures. Over 80 percent of the food service industry is made up of the commercial segment. This category includes-

  • Hotels, Motels, Resorts
  • Restaurants
  • Takeaway outlets
  • Fast food outlets
  • Food delivery
  • Caterers
  • Cafeterias
  • Pubs, Wine bars
  • Food courts
Other places that prepare, serve, and sell food to the general public for a profit would be considered a commercial section of the food service industry.

They are often located inside facilities which don't primarily engage in dispensing meals and snacks. This can include places for lodging, recreation or retail.


Noncommercial food service is a secondary support service inside educational institutions and organizations. The noncommercial enterprise accounts for about 23 percent of food expenditures outside the home. Providing food and beverages ins't the main goal of these enterprises but is offered in a secondary manner to support the main purpose.

For example, schools and nursing homes are types of non-commercial food service establishments. These types of establishments are often called "institutional" food service facilities. Other non-commercial operations in the food industry include-
  • Clubs
  • Hospitals
  • Military
  • Prisons
  • Colleges/Universities
  • Transport catering
  • Industrial catering
  • Institutional catering
Both commercial and non-commercial food service operations provided the same outcome- providing food and beverages to those that are in the facility. The difference is in the form and structure of the operations. Also, the way they're supported and operated is also different. But the goal remains the same in either instance.

  1. Family dining full-service restaurants
  2. Casual dining full-service restaurants
  3. Fine dining full-service restaurants
  4. Quick-service (fast food) restaurants
  5. Quick-casual restaurants

Conclusion to Food Service Industry

  • According to the National Restaurant Association, positions in food service will grow by 14.1 million.
  • The foodservice industry is divided by segments including full service, quick service, eating and drinking and retail host.
  • Everything from fine dining in a restaurant to midday meal services at schools all fall under the umbrella of the food service industry.
  • Commercial and noncommercial food service are the two forms of food and beverage operations.