Hospitality businesses should factor flexibility into their menu planning to deal with rising food and drink prices over the coming months, says buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.
As the sector reopens after the long winter lockdown, a number of factors are combining to create a “perfect storm” in inflation terms, warns Lynx, as it publishes the Spring 2021 edition of its regular Market Forecast.
Lynx Purchasing managing director Rachel Dobson warns: “It doesn’t take too much uncertainty to disrupt the supply chain, and this spring there are a number of elements of unpredictability all arriving at once.
“The biggest factor among them is reopening itself. Suppliers are having to make educated guesses about levels of demand from their hospitality customers. In terms of numbers, we know that sadly, not every business has survived the lockdown.
“Equally, while there seems to be a considerable level of pent-up consumer demand, it’s not clear whether there will be sustained high levels of spending on eating out, or just a burst of reopening activity that will taper off after a while.
“Added to this are the post-Brexit arrangements for food and drink imports into the UK, which haven’t yet been tested in terms of hospitality supply, due to the lockdown, and globally there’s a shortage of shipping containers which is impacting the price of many food commodities. Covid is also a factor, with supplies from parts of the world that are still struggling with the pandemic likely to take longer to return to normal levels.”
The latest edition of the Market Forecast 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.
Dobson adds: “Factors such as provenance, seasonality and sustainability are increasingly important to consumers post-pandemic, so there are now even more opportunities for operators that focus their menus on fresh, seasonal UK produce when it’s at its best in terms of quality and availability.
“Fish and seafood is a good example. The fishing industry is reported to be struggling with exports due to increased bureaucracy, so operators who can use flexible menu descriptions such as ‘market fish’ or ‘catch of the day’ will find there’s a choice of high quality, good value produce from UK seafood suppliers. That also supports the seafood industry’s sustainability efforts, which have been in the media spotlight recently. As a general rule, the closer to home that chefs can buy fish and seafood, the better.”
Other menu areas that operators will need to be aware of over the coming months include:
Dobson adds: “We’re advising our customers to plan for higher levels of inflation later this year. While suppliers have been able to absorb increases during the lockdown to an extent, operators will need to stay alert to likely changes in pricing over the coming months, and budget accordingly.
“Our key advice is to work with trusted suppliers, and it may be that operators need to strike a balance between the established wholesale suppliers, who have worked hard to put secure arrangements in pace to ensure availability, and their more local suppliers.
“Where genuinely local provenance adds value for customers, it’s worth seeking out, but there are many areas of the menu where local doesn’t automatically mean cheaper or better.”
Notes to editors:
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.
Issued on behalf of: Lynx Purchasing
By: ShielPorter Communications
Further information: John Porter: firstname.lastname@example.org / 07734 054389
Ros Shiel: email@example.com / 07841 694137