There are signs the worst of the recession is over, but 3663 First For Foodservice is still expecting its customers to economise this Christmas.

In anticipation that many office parties will be downgraded from sit-down meals to finger buffets, foodservice giant is laying on more buffet food and adding a range of value products to its Christmas brochure.

Consumers ate out less last Christmas than the previous year and although value sales were up 1.1% year-on-year in the delivered catering wholesale sector last December, that was a long way behind food price inflation of 6.2% [Nielsen].

"It's an unknown at the moment, but we expect it to be another tough Christmas, even though the past three months have been much more stable," said 3663 marketing manager Isabelle Davis.

"Consumers are more fickle than ever and will turn away if they don't receive good service and tangible value. To help give consumers what they want we have increased the number of buffet lines in our brochure. We have done a lot more value lines this year, although the food is still excellent."

3663 has designed Christmas menus to help businesses with no time to devise their own and has set up a new website that contains advice on matching food with the exclusive wines it offers.

Its new Christmas Coins reward scheme allows customers to accrue points on many of the items in its Christmas brochure that can be redeemed for prizes.

The wholesaler is also running promotional deals, such as buy four turkeys and get sprouts for free, designed to help customers rein in their Christmas costs.

This year's Christmas brochure contains 600 lines, 30 of which are new products. "We know our customers want value for money, a variety of products and rewards that can help them build their business," Davis said.

"We have focused on these key areas to drive their bottom line."