Inflation. Nobody is a fan. However, now that we are coming out of the pandemic, this is our reality.
Since we cannot escape rising prices and supply chain bottlenecks, we can look for new approaches that can help manage the impact. Many restaurants do this by raising prices, cutting costs, removing items from the menu, and making do with smaller crews. We’re also going to assume that you haven’t considered looking at products as another way to manage rising supply costs. A better understanding of this category can lead to efficiencies, less waste, better quality, as well as supplier and distributor relationship management.
With all the different tiers of suppliers (i.e.: generalist, foodservice distributor, product distributor, buying groups, etc.), it’s important to know who you’re working with so you know at what point you are close to the experts/suppliers source category. The size of your restaurant can sometimes determine how well you can work with a source supplier with small businesses that need a one-stop foodservice distributor and large restaurant chains able to have supply teams. specialized in each category. However, for those who work with various foodservice distributors or distributors working in multiple categories, you need your own understanding of a category so you know who to work with and the particular elements that keep produce fresh. To make a category really work for you, you need to be the category expert or know when you’re working with a category.
We worked with a client who specialized in another category, but when it came to producing, he didn’t know how to improve. There were quality issues in what they received, which put them in the predicament of having nothing else to offer their customers. What transformed their program was advice on the ins and outs of products, which can be a tricky category due to their highly perishable nature and short shelf life product.
Does my provider:
- Tell me how to store, keep and rotate products
- Notify me when max availability
- Tell me the suitable temperature ranges
- Knows where product is purchased/shipped
Having this deeper understanding will begin to answer any questions you may have about how to incorporate produce into your menu. LTOs are a great way to introduce and test new products on a menu as well as introduce price increases. However, when working with products, seasonality can play an important role in your LTO and menu strategy. There may be better times to purchase an item due to seasonality, lower market prices, and optimum quality and flavor. Also, sometimes it’s good to look at your pantry staples and incorporate seasonal produce to have multiple offerings. The seasonality of LTOs can boost sales due to their limited availability, creating an annual event that customers can look forward to and savor. Again, this is information that will help you save money and increase sales of your products.
In this case, we worked with a client who wanted to add a specialty product to their menu. Often restaurants have certain specs for their ingredients and pre-existing shipping lanes that need to be considered, and so adding the item isn’t always as simple as calling the farmer down the road for a sweet potato Japanese. Working with someone who knew multiple product areas with established relationships, this client now had a supplier/vendor that matched specifications with a distribution plan that complemented theirs. Additionally, they also learned about the seasonality of these products as the customer made smart and informed decisions with their menu strategy.
When integrating products into a menu:
- Should I take advantage of seasonality to get the best flavour/price/availability ratio?
- What is the season of the products I want to work with?
- Am I getting the most out of my pantry items with each seasonal product?
Webinar Keep it Fresh
This is just the start of finding ways to manage inflation with commodities. In fact, the Fresh Avenue team is partnering with Modern Restaurant Management to continue this discussion with our Keep It Fresh webinar on June 9th. Editor-in-Chief Barbara Castiglia will host a discussion with Fresh Avenue’s Mark Vaughan and Brian Rooney to talk more in-depth. on the points discussed here, then give the floor to your questions.
Mark your calendars!
Thursday June 9
2 p.m. EST | 1:00 p.m. CST | 11 a.m. PST
Register here! https://www.freshavenue.com/keep-it-fresh-webinar/