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Quality vs Cost in Food Service.

While high quality proteins such as all-natural chicken often command a slightly higher food cost than that of non-premium items, operators maintain that menuing premium products nevertheless can help drive sales. Many restaurant-goers are willing to pay a higher price for a product if they perceive the food quality to be better than that of commodity versions. And even when consumers may be a little resistant to paying more, creative restaurateurs say they can find ways to make the price points accessible for premium menu selections.

From what I’ve experienced, consumers are willing to pay more for honesty, traceability of ingredients, better flavor and higher quality ingredients such as the center of the plate, protein as well as local fruits and vegetables. The pandemic has made this even more of a reality, guests are re evaluating there perception of what a quality restaurant experience should be. I personally believe guests are becoming aware of what REAL FOOD actually is. Unfortunately restaurants have changed little, and may have actually regressed in there quality standards. For the most part you can blame huge multi national corporations for this, as they basically drive the standards for most restaurants.

There are many benefits to incorporating locally produced food into your restaurant. So many locally sourced foods are nutritious and promote good health, which appeals to health-conscious customers.

Here are a few more benefits of locally sourced foods:

  • Keeps money local and boosts nearby economies

  • Fresh produce offers variety depending on what’s in-season

  • Encourages crop rotation which keeps soil in good condition for future farming

  • Contributes to a sustainable agricultural economy and work force

  • Creates shorter transport distances which reduces gas emissions

Because purchasing locally promotes sustainability, many farms and markets are able to increase their business volume. This is often done through promotions over the internet as well as connections made through community supported agriculture, or CSA’s. Shopping locally returns more of the food’s purchase price back to the farmers who cultivated it while creating a relationship between farmers and restaurateurs.

There you have it folks, a little known or acted upon fact. Restaurants are actually more profitable using fresh local food, and doing more in house production! Here is a brief example; a hotel I operated many years ago ran a food cost of 19% in the fine dining venue, that's unheard of today. Typically restaurants run between 33 and 40%...double the cost with little change in the labour costs. So, the question is why? The corporations have pushed restauranteurs into a model of buying that suites them financially, but not the operator. I honestly believe we are on the cusp of a significant change in how restaurants operate, basically, lead, follow or get out of the way!

Cheers, and have a great week!

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