There is likely to be a costly Christmas in store for catering and hospitality operators, as price rises kick in for many festive menu staples, warns buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.
Both turkey and Brussels sprouts, essential components of a traditional Christmas dinner, are forecast to see higher prices in the run-up to the festive season. Other food items, from lemon for the pre-dinner gin & tonic to cream for the Christmas pudding, are also in the inflation firing line.
“While we’re still waiting for clarity on how Brexit, in whatever form it takes, will affect the supply chain, other factors are having an impact as operators get ready for the peak trading season,” says Rachel Dobson, managing director of Lynx Purchasing. “Extreme weather, from the spring floods to the summer heatwave in Europe, has affected many crops, and there are various other challenges facing meat, seafood and dairy.”
The advice comes as Lynx Purchasing publishes the Autumn/Winter 2019 edition of its regular Market Forecast, which offers operators an in-depth look at pricing and product trends over the coming months, using exclusive data gathered from the range of suppliers who work with Lynx Purchasing.
“All in all, operators who haven’t yet secured the essentials they need for their Christmas menus may find some items in short supply,” adds Dobson. “Even where they have placed firm orders, they’re likely to have higher-than-expected bills to pay when it comes to settling up with suppliers in January.
“There is some good news. While there were concerns about the quality of the potato crop, in fact supplies are looking to be up to scratch in terms of quality, as well as good value. Most customers probably won’t object to a few more roast potatoes and not so many sprouts, but that won’t be much comfort for operators trying to manage margins across the whole menu.”
Areas highlighted in the Market Forecast include:
Farmed fish: Overcoming any concerns chefs have about using farmed fish is important in supporting sustainability initiatives in the hospitality sector, and farmed fresh and smoked trout is a useful and tasty alternative to salmon on Christmas menus.
Dairy: Increasing demand for dairy from manufacturers in the run-up to Christmas, combined with seasonally lower production, is putting upward pressure on prices. The UK imports considerable amounts of cheese and butter, and whatever the impact of Brexit, European suppliers have other markets for their products as global demand grows.
“There are fewer opportunities to use specials boards to make the best use of changing availability in the run-up to Christmas,” says Dobson, “as operators have often published menus and taken bookings well in advance. However, any flexibility that can be built into menus will help businesses make the most of the best value produce available
“Equally, suppliers are just as concerned as operators about the ongoing political uncertainty and the resulting consumer caution, and will be grateful for any certainty they can get, so operators who can give forecasts of their potential orders to help suppliers plan will be in a stronger position when it comes to price negotiations.”
The Autumn/Winter 2019 Market Forecast is available to download free from the Lynx Purchasing website at Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast Autumn Winter 2019
Lynx Purchasing works with more than 2,200 accounts in the hospitality and catering sector, on a no-membership and no-contract basis that offers like-for-like products at lower prices and often better quality than operators could obtain by negotiating alone.
As purchasing professionals, Lynx works with leading suppliers in the hospitality and catering industry. These include specialist fresh food suppliers, wines & spirits, catering equipment providers, utilities, and specialist service providers such as telecom, business rates consultancy and waste management.