How Professional Caterers Transport Food

Whether you are looking to start a catering business, or maybe out of sheer curiosity, you may be thinking “how do you carry so much food?” better yet “how do they carry it, and keep it warm?“Maybe you’ve been to an event recently where there were trays and trays of food, you know they didn’t prepare it there, so how did they get it there?

Caterers use special temperature-controlled trays and containers, careful and customized shelving in their vehicles. Caterers use a team of people with equipment to help carry and safely transport meals to different events. Furthermore, caterers have special measures in case something does go wrong.

There are two major ways catering companies transfer food; vans, and specially insulated containers. If you’re looking to start your own catering business, there are a few things you’re going to want to look at investing in before you start.


Most catering companies have vans that are properly equipped to transport food safely. Some vans even come refrigerated. There are some well-known van companies in the catering industry that may get you what you’re looking for.

Catering companies often buy a number of vans based on their company’s size. Smaller businesses normally do not have any more than two or three vans. Very rarely do catering companies book multiple events on the same day, normally it’s a one-a-day process. Meaning they don’t need a lot of vans going to a lot of different places. Instead, they just get one to two vans in the beginning and expand as needed. Of course, if an event is bigger, you’ll need more space, but companies sometimes have a limit due to their resources on how many people they can feed and entertain.

Fleetco Catering Vans

Fleetco vans “builds refrigerated vans and catering vans for customers throughout the Southeast. Whether you’re delivering frozen goods to retailers or running a catering business we can build a refrigerated van to meet your needs. We use industry-leading Thermo King and Carrier refrigeration units, capable of both chill and sub-zero temperatures.”

They have a long process of customizing vans just the way you need them to be. You can not only select the type of vehicle you have but also how insulated it is if there are shelving and all other types of customizable options.


Convoy is another van company that is acclaimed by catering companies. It offers a wider selection in sizes that Fleetco does, but is also customizable. Something important when it comes to looking at a catering van is making it just the way you need it to be. Maybe you only serve desserts or ice creams, and you need your van to be really, really cold. Maybe you only serve warm meals and need it to retain heat. Convoy can help you customize it the way you need it to!

Special Insulated Trays

If you’re a caterer, transporting your food hot (or cold) is important. Caterers have special trays that they use in order to keep their food at the desired temperature. Along with special techniques to make sure that temperature lasts not only through transportation but through the event.

When it comes to storing the food, if warm, it’s important to store it at 140 degrees Fahrenheit when you placing it in the hot boxes to ensure that it stays warm. If it’s cold, then the desired temp is anywhere under 41 degrees depending on the meal. Though it can go lower or higher than that.


Loading the dishes on to the vans are just as important as keeping them warm are! You don’t want everything spilling and creating a mess in the back! There are a few imperative ways that caterers make sure everything is loaded properly on and off of their vans, to make it safely to their next destination.


Like we mentioned earlier, catering vans are often specially made in order to keep them at the desired temperature, but on top of that, they often have extra storage. Some vans are lined with shelving, or with an ice chest attached to it, so you have a versatile amount of temperatures and storage.

Caterers take special care in making sure their vans can hold food securely. Most of these shelves have special straps attached to hold food trays in place and keep them from jostling or falling while in the transportation process.


Transporting on and off the van is crucial. So it’s important that caterers have the right type of supplies. They also have a lot to transport! They have a long packing list. With things like linens, glasses, dishes, pots, pans, silverware, everything you could need, and even little things like aluminum foil and saran wrap! Getting everything on safely and carefully is a big priority.

Often transportation on and off the van is either done by hand, or by a trolley. A trolley is also used for moving large boxes by moving companies. It is great for transporting stacks of containers at once, without having to do much heavy lifting. These trolleys roll food and other equipment on and off the vans easily and avoid any chances of dropping!

If Something Goes Wrong

There’s always the chance, that something goes wrong. Maybe the van hits a speed bump too hard, or there’s a wreck. This issue is also usually prepared ahead of time.

Often, caterers prepare a little extra than needed in the case that there are extra guests at an event, or if something goes wrong in the truck. The customer is often not charged for these extra meals prepared, or if something goes terribly wrong, there is normally a direct deposit put down that is then refunded when the service and quality are not met.

Whether you’re trying to start your own business, or are just a little curious about how it works, there’s a lot more that goes into catering businesses that just getting food from one place to another. Vans, trays, and transportation are all crucial parts of catering, and it’s what makes your event great!

Anna Silver

Anna Silver is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to new go-to original recipes. Inspired by her grandmother’s love of cooking, Anna has a passion for treating the people in her life to delicious homemade food and loves to share her family recipes with the rest of the world.

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