What to Look for When Purchasing a Catering Trolley?

When it comes time to buy a new catering trolley there are a few different things you need to consider: here’s our quick guide to making sure you get the best trolley for your needs. 

What are you using your trolley for? 

It might seem like a simple question – it’s a catering trolley after all, so you are presumably using it for catering. However, there’s a huge difference between delivering multiple hot plates to patients in a hospital ward and offering drinks at a gala. There are two main types of trolley to choose between, with very different attributes: 

Stainless steel 

These trolleys are typically more heavy-duty and capable of holding heavier weights (so more food, drinks or plates). Stainless steel is also the best material for commercial catering trolleys as you can clean it much more easily than chrome mesh, for example. The restricted air flow means that the products you are carrying will retain their temperature longer than they would on a mesh trolley.

Great for: high-traffic professional kitchens, nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, etc. 


Wire trolleys are much lighter weight than the solid steel panel versions. These are, therefore, better suited for lighter weights, although they can still be found with good capacities from some suppliers. A key benefit of wire mesh style trolleys is that you get a much better air flow around what you are carrying, and you can often adjust shelves to get a more versatile trolley. This kind of trolley is harder to clean, particularly to a sterilised or super-hygienic state. 

Perfect for: taking sandwiches and snacks around offices or trains, low-traffic kitchens, canapes, etc. 

Do you need storage? 

If you need your trolley to have closed-off storage like a cupboard or compartment, then you need to go for a steel model. You can typically find these with a decent choice of shelf and cupboard configurations, but can’t usually adapt them at will – so once you’ve chosen your set-up, that is what you are stuck with. Wire trolleys are not usually available with integrated cupboards, because the mesh construction does not lend itself well to doors, but you can usually move the shelves around for more flexibility. 

Other considerations 

The main point of a trolley is to give mobility, so you need to think about two further aspects. 


Do you need locking castors? Do you need non-marking wheels? Will you be transitioning a lot from carpet to vinyl or rubber flooring and back again? Make sure that your trolley is mounted on good quality wheels that suit your environment – the wrong ones and you can suffer from stalling (where the trolley doesn’t transition smoothly and ‘jars’ the items being carried – more of an issue with drinks and soups than pre-packaged sandwiches). 


How do you want to move your trolley? Will you be gripping it at the sides (and so don’t need an actual handle)? Will you be pushing it always from the same side and thus only need a handle on one side? Would you prefer the flexibility of being able to pull or push from either side? Make sure you have a good idea how you or your staff will actually use the trolley, and then get the right model for your requirements. 

Author Bio:

First Mats started life as safety matting specialists, but have since expanded to become a complete industrial and commercial supplies company. The focus of First Mats is to provide safety-focused products that improve the wellbeing of staff through quality approved products, backed up by extensive knowledge.

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