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Commercial & Noncommercial Food Service Operations

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  • 0:02 You've Been Served
  • 0:36 Commercial Operations
  • 1:40 Noncommercial Operations
  • 2:26 Differences in Food…
  • 4:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Commercial and noncommercial food service operations covers the two most popular forms of food and beverage establishments available to the public. In this lesson, you'll learn more about the two and how they differ.

You've Been Served

Think of all the places you've stopped to grab a bite to eat. Maybe you were heading to the beach and hit a few fast-food restaurants on your way. Or, perhaps you were visiting a loved one in the hospital and had a quick meal in the hospital cafeteria. While both food service operations provided the same outcome - that is, they satisfied your hunger - these operations differ from one another in form and structure and in the way they're supported and operated. Let's compare and contrast commercial and noncommercial food service operations.

Commercial Operations

Commercial food service, sometimes referred to as market-oriented food service, is the largest and most recognizable form of food service operation in the world, accounting for approximately 77% of food expenditures outside of people's homes. You'll recognize commercial food service operations as you drive around your town and down the highway, with large, fluorescent signs advertising hamburgers, pizza, and sub sandwiches.

The main goal of commercial food service operations is to provide food and beverage to customers for profit and create positive guest experiences. These operations include fast-food and full-service restaurants, bars and nightclubs, catering and banquet facilities, and recreation and leisure outlets. You also might find commercial food service operators in sports stadiums and on airlines and cruise ships. Retail stores that offer prepared meals, such as supermarkets and convenience stores, as well as vending machines, also can be classified as commercial ventures.

Noncommercial Operations

Noncommercial food service, on the other hand, is a cost-oriented enterprise that prepares and serves meals as a secondary support service to educational institutions and other organizations. Noncommercial food service accounts for about 23 percent of food expenditures outside the home.

Noncommercial food service operations can be found in corporations, healthcare facilities, schools, and military or government installations. For these entities, providing food and beverages is not the number one goal but a secondary goal offered in support of the establishment's main purpose. For example, a university has the primary goal of educating students to enter the workforce but offers cafeterias and other food services that support that goal.

Differences in Food Service Operations

There are a few distinct differences between commercial and noncommercial food service operations:

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