In Dutch there's a quite commonly used word that denotes the commercial sector around selling food and beverages for immediate (or near-immediate, e.g. take-out meals) consumption: horeca. (This usually also includes snackbars and the like, but not supermarkets)

I'm in the process of creating an English version of a website that has it as a menu item, and I'm looking for a translation of approximately similar size (i.e. not a full sentence). I found that the word horeca also exists in English, but the Wikipedia page is quite small and seems to be written by a Dutch native. The definition given is the exact definition of the word I'm looking for, but I'd rather have something that's less obscurely used in English..

Horeca (or HORECA) is the sector of the food service industry that consists of establishments which prepare and serve food and beverages. The term is a syllabic abbreviation of the words Hotel/Restaurant/Café.

I'm edging towards distrusting the fact that it's a word that English natives would understand. Does anyone have any alternatives with a simialr meaning?

  • 1
    Hotel restaurants and cafes fall in the category of restaurants in English. So why can't you just use the word restaurant? (Or maybe restaurants and bars.) Dec 30, 2012 at 15:46
  • 2
    You first say "the entirety of the commercial sector around food and beverages", but then you say "Hotel/Restaurant/Cafe" which is only a single sector of the food service industry. The entirety of the commercial food/beverage sector includes food and beverage production, processing, distribution, and in general a lot more than what you list as Horeca. You should clarify which part you really mean. Dec 30, 2012 at 17:14
  • 1
    @Mark Beadles You're correct, that was way too broad and only caused confusion. I ment the latter. It's just about the last part of the chain, where people buy food/drinks for immediate or near-immediate consumption. Edited the Q.
    – Joost
    Dec 30, 2012 at 17:19
  • 2
    @MarkBeadles As you've realised catering is a generic term used in the UK for the food and drink industry and includes wholesale, production, distribution and end sales. e2a I see where the confusion came from, my use of the word English. You darned Americans make life very complicated for us Brits :) Dec 30, 2012 at 17:26
  • 2
    It is not the culture in English to make abbreviations using initial syllables. The English culture is limited to first letters. The only situation that is similar (that I can think of now) is geographical: Tribeca for "Triangle below Canal Street", in NYC, SoCal for southern California.
    – Mitch
    Dec 30, 2012 at 20:05

4 Answers 4


The US National Restaurant Association calls this the restaurant industry. More generally, the USDA calls the sector foodservice outlets:

Foodservice outlets are facilities that serve meals and snacks for immediate consumption on site (food away from home).

I do not know the corresponding UK or AUS terms, if that is what you are looking for.


The Wikipedia page provided by the OP states:

The Dutch Uniforme Voorwaarden Horeca (UVH) is translated into English as Uniform Conditions for the Hotel and Catering Industry.

An (informal) alternative in eateries might also serve:

a restaurant or cafe. (BrE)

a restaurant or other place where people can be served food. (AE)


Horeca is used in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland in the different languages spoken in those countries. That a single word is used for economic activity in hotels, restaurants and cafés reflects local ideas that the three are closely related and should for example be addressed by the same economic policies.

In the UK, catering and hospitality have some overlap with the term but are not exact equivalents and they too represent local ideas on the grouping together of sectors, which are not the same as those on the continent.

While European integration has encouraged some convergence in terms of nomenclature and conceptual framework, the political systems of Member States remain separate and largely retain their own distinct terms and concepts, which are the product of their individual historical experiences.

When translating horeca into English it is therefore best to either a) say you what you mean i.e. economic activity based around hotels, restaurants and/or cafés or b) use a near equivalent that your audience would understand, provided that generalisations are appropriate for the context.


In english these are typically referred to as fast food outlets.

  • 2
    Fast food outlets are part of 'horeca' as described above, but are definitely not the same. Hotels and restaurants generally don't serve fast food exclusively.
    – Joost
    Dec 30, 2012 at 18:40
  • 1
    @Joost Hotels never seem to serve food fast, at least when I call for room-service. :)
    – tchrist
    Dec 30, 2012 at 19:02
  • @Joost I was referring to immediate (or near-immediate, e.g. take-out meals)
    – crowne
    Dec 31, 2012 at 11:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.