The Foodservice Industry

Learn the product categories and size of the industry.

The Size of the Foodservice Industry

What is Foodservice?

When people think of the foodservice industry, what comes to mind most often are restaurants and other establishments that offer food and beverages away from home. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The foodservice industry relies on a complex web of supply channel partners, products, and technologies to ensure that food and beverages reach diners safely and efficiently.

This includes the products our members manufacturer and market, including equipment, supplies/smallwares, tabletop and furniture.



What Makes Food, Foodservice?

Food and beverages become foodservice when a “service” is applied to them through final preparation and serving, by someone away from your home, making it ready for immediate consumption

It doesn’t matter if you eat the food at that location, take it home, or have it delivered.



EST & F - Our Product Categories

The products involved in preparing the food and drink for you are also part of foodservice, as are the products used to serve it to you.

The products involved in preparing and serving food and beverages fall within 4 main categories:

  • Equipment: products used to prepare food and beverages that “turn on.” The exception to the “turns on” rule are storage and handling products, like shelving.

  • Supplies/Smallwares: products used to prepare food and beverages that do not “turn on.”

  • Tabletop: products used to consume food and beverages.

  • Furniture: products used to sit on or at to order or consume food and beverages.

Often, you may hear people refer to our industry as just the foodservice E & S industry. Know that this always includes Tabletop & Furniture, with the T and F being silent.




Operator Spend on EST&F

The 1.5 million operators in North America spend 14.5 billion dollars each year on EST & F products to prepare and serve food and beverages to hungry diners.

  • In the United States, operators spend 13.5 billion dollars each year for EST & F.

  • In Canada, operators spend 1 billion dollars per year on EST & F products.

US Canada Size


Back of the House (BOH) and Front of the House (FOH)

Almost every operator establishment is divided into two main areas:
The Kitchen area, where the food is prepared, is known as the Back of House (BOH).

  • Back of the House Products account for 84% of all product purchases by operators and include the Equipment and Supplies/Smallwares product categories.

The Dining Room, where the food is served to the customer, is called the Front of House (FOH).

  • Front of the House Products account for 16% of all product purchases by operators and include the Tabletop and Furniture product categories. .



Size of EST&F Categories

Equipment: At 77%, it is the largest product category and accounts for 11 billion of the 14.5-billion-dollar industry, annually. United States is 10.2 billion and Canada is 800 million.

Equipment Size 77%


Supplies/Smallwares: This category equates to 7%, or 1.1 billion dollars annually. United States is 1.2 billion and Canada is 80 million.

Supplies-Smallwares 7%


Tabletop: It is the second largest product category and accounts for 10% of the industry, or 1.5 billion dollars. United States is 1.4 billion and Canada is 100 million.

Tabletop Size 10%


Furniture: It is the smallest category, and accounts for 6% or 900 million dollars of the 14.5-billion-dollar industry. United States is 840 million and Canada is 60 million.

Furniture Size 6%


The Size of the Six Equipment Sub-Categories

The size of the Equipment market is 11 billion dollars and is further defined into six subcategories.

Food Preparation: It is the smallest subcategory, accounting for 7% or 770 million dollars of the 11-billion-dollar equipment category. United States is 716 million and Canada is 54 million.

Primary Cooking Equipment: The second largest equipment subcategory, it 25% of the equipment category, or 2.8 billion dollars. United States is 2.6 billion and Canada is 200 million.

Refrigeration and Ice Machines: At 32%, Refrigeration and Ice Machines is the largest equipment subcategory and accounts for 3.5 billion annually. United States is 3.25 billion and Canada is 250 million.

Serving and Holding: This equipment subcategory accounts for 16%, or 1.8 billion dollars annually. United States is 1.67 billion and Canada is 130 million.

Storage and Handling: This subcategory equates to 9% of the equipment category, or 990 million dollars annually. United States is 920 million and Canada is 70 million.

Warewashing, Waste Handling, and Safety: It accounts for 11% of the equipment category, or 1.2 billion dollars. United States is 1.1 billion and Canada is 90 million.




The Size of the Foodservice Industry as a Whole

Apart from our 14.5-billion-dollar EST & F industry, operators spend an additional $345.5 billion on three other products categories: Food, Alcohol, and Cleaning Supplies.


Between all products, operators spend $360 billion in North America per year on feeding consumers, with the United States at $322 billion and Canada at $38 billion.

ESTF plus foood-1

All of that EST & F, food, alcohol, and cleaning supplies is to support the 300 million consumers that spend $963 billion *eating and drinking outside the home each year.* That's almost a trillion dollars!



Foodservice not only helps to support the North American economy, it brings people together, shapes our lives, and empowers our communities. This is the size of our industry.

Foodservice 101 white final
Want to learn more about the foodservice industry?

Learn more about the industry from MAFSI's Foodservice 101, including the 24 operator categories and their size, the 5 channel partners and their size, roles and responsibilities, and much, much more.