Organizations, clubs, and individuals frequently hold events, parties, and workshops, so they will always be in need of a caterer for food services. The food services industry in South Africa has become very competitive, with its own identity that matches South African consumers’ needs. Starting a catering business in South Africa is very profitable. The food sector has been growing due to the growth of the tourism sector and an increase in income.  As a result, more people have been eating out in addition to the various events held by companies and individuals.  There are a number of reasons for this, including events, festivals and gatherings that are held yearly. Educational institutions, private companies and other tourist organizations are always in need of catering services.   Thus, becoming a caterer is a lucrative business that one can explore. Keep in mind that many South Africans are becoming health conscious when it comes to the food they consume. More people now demand nutritious ingredients that are procured in a sustainable and ethical manner. There has been an increase in the demand for local produce and ethically-sourced indigenous ingredients, traditional meals, and healthier food options. Also, the food services market in South Africa is very competitive and it has its own identity that matches South African consumers’ needs. This article will outline how to start a catering business in South Africa, and the catering business plan – PDF, Word, and Excel.

Business Model

A caterer works closely with clients in designing, preparing, and serving food for events such as wedding dinners, charity balls, holiday brunches, office lunches, birthday parties, and any other occasion where people come together. As a caterer, you will be required to prepare food menus based on the choice and budget of your client. Your menu can include appetizers, salads, sandwiches, delicacies, and any  of your trademark meals that bear your signature as the caterer. It is important to include various types of foods for vegans, non-vegans, and gluten-free meals in your menu. There are different ways you can offer your services, either by cooking at the venue or delivering the food there. There are some hosts that require the caterer to set up the food area, set tables, chairs, sofas, and other furniture for guest seating. It is also the responsibility of the caterer to clean up the food and dining area when the event is done. This includes removing plates, glasses, silverware, and linens from the tables and cleaning the garbage. As a caterer, you must understand how certain meals work together, have strong interpersonal skills, particularly listening skills, and be able to manage cooking and serving staff.

Market Research

A catering business is a lucrative business that has been providing income for many entrepreneurs, but there are some essential factors you need to consider before you venture into this kind of business. Some of these factors include the size of your facilities; location, the various packages you will offer, your menus, and the food you intend to provide, plus your target market. These factors will be affected by the amount of capital you have. Thus, you should carry out a feasibility study, market research and have a good catering business plan before you venture into this business.

There are many opportunities available for a catering business in South Africa. The market for catering services is large; you can target the growing tourism industry, schools, universities, private businesses, events, and various other organizations that require catering services.  Being a caterer exposes you to different cultures and people from various backgrounds. Also nowadays, people are becoming more conscious about what they eat and require caterers to prepare healthy food. This means that there may be a gap that needs to be filled. It is important that you conduct market research so that you know what your clientele is like and what they expect from you. Conducting market research will also help you identify opportunities that you can capitalize on to grow your business.

Location & Premises

The location of your business is an important decision to make before you start a catering business in South Africa. It’s important that you locate your catering facilities and offices close to your target market. Consider the amount of road traffic and find an easily accessible location where people can stop and quickly get service. There are several possible locations, including shopping centers, malls, and the CBD. Opening a catering services business close to places that typically have potential for traffic is ideal. The cost of leasing the premises should be included in the catering business plan.

Equipment For Catering

You need various kinds equipment for your catering business and the type of equipment you may require will depend on the size of your catering facility plus the kind of packages and food you will serve your clients. Some essential equipment for caterers includes stoves, ovens, refrigerators, cooking utensils, and cutlery among other things. You may need to buy vehicles, delivery vans, and bikes depending on your services and if you plan on transporting meals for deliveries. It is important to include all of these costs into your catering services business plan.

Permits/Licences, Insurance & Business Bank Account

The South African Business Act demands that all businesses offering food and beverages have a license. Thus, you must have a business license for your operations.  A certificate of acceptability is also necessary. This certificate shows information about the nature and type of food you cook, as well as how you handle the food. You must indicate how you prepare, pack, process, and store your food for a certificate of acceptability. Insurance is also just as important when you set up your catering business. Consider having property insurance, which will cover your premises, stock, and equipment. You must also have general liability insurance that covers legal expenses in the event of an accident involving any one of your employees or clients. Insurance is useful when you need to cover equipment breakdowns or damage. You should have insurance to protect your catering business and yourself from physical loss due to accidents, faults, or even natural disasters. With regards to business finances, consider keeping a separate bank account for your business and for your personal use. Your businesses’ transactions must not mix with your personal transactions. Mixing business funds with your personal funds can put you at risk, especially if your business experiences any challenges. You risk losing your personal assets if your catering company gets sued or has to file for bankruptcy.


Your target niche will determine the kind of packages, menus, and products to sell. There are various caterers that offer catering for weddings, corporates, and for private parties, among others. It is advisable to create attractive packages that will help you bring customers to your business. It is very important for a catering company to source food ingredients from the right suppliers. Consider developing relationships with suppliers who can provide affordable and quality ingredients consistently. These factors in addition to other important matters should be clearly written in your catering services business plan.

Competitive Analysis

Starting a catering business means that you are going to battle with hundreds of other caterers who are all trying to get the biggest bite out of the market. In order for you to stand out, you need to conduct a market analysis. You must know who your competitors are, what products and services they offer, and who their clients are. You should also find out what your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses are. A competitive analysis will also help you figure out where you fit in the market. There are plenty of opportunities that you can take advantage of, and a competitive analysis will help you figure out where these gaps are.

Staff & Management

As a customer-centric catering business, it’s important that you hire employees that are friendly and efficient. Your employees should be passionate about serving your clients. If you want to hit the ground running it’s better to hire a team of people who have experience in this business. Your cooks and chefs should be able to prepare good and attractive meals, and your waiters and other staff members should be able to serve customers efficiently on a regular basis.  Inexperienced staff members need to go through extensive training before they can be given intricate tasks. Keep in mind that the equipment and machinery used for catering can cause serious injury. Ensure that you take the necessary precautions when operating your facilities.

Depending on the size of your business, the actual number of your staff will vary however, you will need a reasonable number of chefs, cooks, waiters, cleaners, security as well as management. Your catering business plan should cater for the salaries and day to day expenses and operations of your business.

Some of the day-to-day operations of this business involve:

  • Food preparation (cooking/baking)
  • Serving Customers and doing deliveries
  • Liaising with /suppliers
  • Sales and communicating with customers
  • Preparing and organising for events
  • Managing Staff
  • Marketing and advertising

It is essential to take great care when you handle food products and beverages. Food contamination can cause health issues. There is need for you to adhere to all industry related health and safety measures in place. These safety measures cover the cleanliness of your environment; how your staff members dress plus how and where food is prepared and stored among other issues. Businesses related to the preparation and serving of food can be a great risk, that is why adhering to health and regulations is important.

Marketing And Sales Plan

Marketing and sales are all about connecting with people. Finding ways to impress and connect with people is important. This means you should network with wedding planners, golf clubs, sports clubs, exhibition centers, and bridal shops. Make time to visit businesses in order to introduce yourself and tell them what you can offer them. Consider offering discounts to your clients if they refer you. Occasionally, offer bridal tastings and reach out to other types of companies or corporations. You can have a small, intimate tasting with 10 or more qualified leads and make a major impression through your food and service. It is essential for your business to reach out to the corporate community. For a catering business, bridal expos should not be your only target. You must also consider fairs hosted by companies in various sectors, including legal, architecture, financial, marketing and advertising, TV, and production. Reaching out to these other sectors is important because they have conferences on a regular basis and meetings that need food, event coordination, and planning, plus they usually invite vendors in to showcase the services they provide.


Given that the South African market is one of the leading emerging economies on the African continent there is potential for high growth, especially when it comes to the food and beverages sector. This sector has been growing steadily for the past 10 years, thus becoming a caterer can be a good investment. Whether you are a young entrepreneur, a professional seeking to start your own business or someone who needs a retirement plan, investing in a catering services business is something worth considering. Large institutions both public and private such as universities, hospitals and companies outsource catering services to feed their staff members, students, and clients. There is always a demand for catering services in the country due to sporting events, food and wine fairs, weddings, funerals, festivals, and corporate events that take place all year round, so becoming a caterer can be rewarding financially. One thing that can set you apart before investing in any venture is developing a business plan. A well thought out catering business plan will help you in both the short term and long term when it comes to any investment. There are various risks associated with running a food services business, like any other venture, your catering services business plan should clearly outline these risks and ways to minimise them.

Is A Catering Business in South Africa A Good Investment?

There is a reasonable number of caterers with a large market share in South Africa. Even though the industry is highly competitive it is still possible for you to open your own catering company and make money. Starting your own catering business is not expensive, especially if you start small. It is the kind of business you can run with little equipment at first and grow the business overtime. However, building your own catering services business from scratch can be challenging but rewarding if done well. Investing in a catering services business can be a profitable venture, but obviously, this will depend on many factors such as your target market. The input costs of running a catering business varies depending on how you start, it is cheaper if you start small. Whichever way you start, with a catering services business you can make reasonable profit margins. Apart from the obvious advantages of becoming financially independent and becoming your own boss, operating a catering business can be a profitable way of uplifting your community.

Keys to Profitability

In order to grow your catering business  you should prioritize your online presence. Create an attractive, informative, and well-designed website that showcases your dishes, menus, and different packages. People in need of catering services will for sure compare you to your competition, so having a stunning website can help you stand out. Take advantage of social media and use it often. Social media offers strong platforms for catering marketing where you can keep your clients engaged and attract new ones. Make use of testimonials because they can build trust and credibility for your catering brand. Invite your clients to leave positive reviews on your website and on your social media pages. Lastly, keep an eye on your operations and do not spend too much money as you start out. You can start your catering business small with a few staff members and second-hand equipment until you grow your business.


For an in-depth analysis of the catering business in South Africa, purchase our catering business plan. We decided to introduce the business plans after noting that many South Africans were venturing into the catering business without a full understanding of the industry, market, how to run the business, the risks involved, profitability of the business and the costs involved, leading to a high failure rate of their businesses.

Our business plan will make it easier for you to launch and run a catering business successfully, fully knowing what you are going into, and what’s needed to succeed in the business. It will be easier to plan and budget as the catering business plan will lay out all the costs involved in setting up and running the catering services business. The business plan is designed specifically for the South African market.


The catering business plan can be used for many purposes including:

  • Raising capital from investors/friends/relatives
  • Applying for a bank loan
  • Start-up guide to launch your catering business
  • As a catering business project proposal
  • Assessing profitability of the catering services business
  • Finding a business partner
  • Assessing the initial start-up costs so that you know how much to save
  • Manual for current business owners to help in business and strategy formulation


The business plan includes, but not limited to:

  • Market Analysis
  • Industry Analysis
  • 5 Year Automated Financial Statements [ Income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, monthly cash flow projections (3 years monthly cash flow projections, the remaining two years annually),break even analysis, payback period analysis, start-up costs, financial graphs, revenue and expenses, Bank Loan Amortisation]
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Risk Analysis
  • SWOT & PEST Analysis
  • Operational Requirements
  • Operational Strategy
  • Why some South Africans in the catering business fail, so that you can avoid their mistakes
  • Ways to raise capital to start your catering business in South Africa


The Catering Business Plan package consist of 4 files

  1. Catering Business Plan – PDF file (Comprehensive – 92 pages)
  2. Catering Business Plan – Editable Word File (Comprehensive – 92 pages)
  3. Catering Business Plan Funding Version – Editable Word File (Short version for applying for a loan – 46 pages)
  4. Catering Business Plan Automated Financial Statements – (Editable Excel file)

The financial statements are automated. This implies that you can change eg the markup, salaries etc, and all the other financial statements will automatically adjust to reflect the change. 


We decided to make the business plan affordable to anyone who would want to start the business, and the price for the pre-written business plan is only 500 Rand.

We have several payment methods which you can use.

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The business plan package is a zipped compressed file containing the PDF, Word and Excel documents. To open the package after downloading it, just right click, and select Extract All. If you have any problems in downloading and opening the files, email us on and we will assist you.

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Click Buy Now below to purchase. After you have purchased, you will instantly see the download link for the business plan package on the screen. We will also email you the download link. Get instant access to the business plan now!

If you want to purchase multiple business plans at once using Instant EFT then  click here: Business Plans Store

The business plan package is a zipped compressed file containing the PDF, Word and Excel documents. To open the package after downloading it, just right click, and select Extract All. If you have any problems in downloading and opening the files, email us on and we will assist you.

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