BERLIN (dpa-AFX) - The switch of many employees to working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause problems for company canteens. In 2023, the industry segment, which also includes caterers, recorded a decline in sales of 11.3 percent compared to the pre-crisis year 2019, according to a spokeswoman for the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga), citing the Federal Statistical Office. Compared to 2022, there was an increase of 1.8 percent. The situation remains challenging. "The same applies to company restaurants operated by companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Bayer."

How the situation in company restaurants develops will depend crucially on whether and to what extent people continue to work from home - or whether companies and employees instead "rediscover the benefits and the inestimable value of daily interaction in the workplace". This is where the service sector, for example, with a high proportion of employees working from home, differs significantly from the manufacturing industry.

The VAT increase from 7 to 19 percent at the beginning of the year also hit businesses hard, it said - not only restaurants and cafés, but also communal catering and catering companies in companies. The association is therefore calling for food to be taxed uniformly at 7 percent: "It is absurd that 19 percent VAT applies again to food in restaurants, while food to go, ready-made salads from the supermarket and food delivery continue to be taxed at 7 percent."/kre/DP/zb