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When businesses refer to their spend on Catering, are they referring to Food and Beverage commodities, Manpower, Kitchen Equipment, Tableware, Disposables or an all-encompassing service such as contract catering?

When you are procuring catering supplies keeping up to date with changing legislation is a challenge. From the much-publicised bans on plastic straws and drinks stirrers from April 2020, to the Soil Association’s recommendation that all state schools in England should offer a compulsory plant-based menu one day a week.

As you would expect there is a big focus on security and pricing of supply that could come with a no deal Brexit impacting not only suppliers, but also businesses with catering needs that should be thinking about contingent measures, storage capacities, menus and menu pricing – all of which will have an impact on gross profits and budgets.

Hints and tips
Whatever your catering requirement is, always have strong processes that can manage and control costs:

  • If it’s a catering contract, ensure you write a strong requirement from the outset and ensure that the level of service and charges are reviewed at least quarterly with the Caterer.
  • Food commodity prices can vary dramatically according to the supply and demand influenced by seasons, crop harvests, weather and exchange rates – so ensure that menus are reviewed and changed regularly to make the most of what is good value, rather than doggedly sticking to the same menu that may be costing you 30% more.
  • Use your main food suppliers to assist you with presenting your allergen information for your menus or allergen reference folder.
  • An estimated 47% of our food supplies come from outside of the UK, so there is an opportunity to create a better food provenance story from UK suppliers that will attract customers and provide a more secure food supply.
  • Regularly track prices of core items purchased to see how many prices fluctuate and use these in discussion with your suppliers.

Market changes to be aware of
As legislation and public sentiment of packaging and waste grows, ensure that policies you adopt are both financially viable and sustainable.

Suppliers are trialling different packaging options, but be aware this may cause shorter shelf life, less protection against damage, take up more storage area and could increase the cost. Think carefully about how this may impact your business before committing to a new policy, or being persuaded by that food supplier that tells you ‘everyone is using it’.

You may have seen in-season fruit and veg pricing increasing. Is this just due to a poor harvest or crop, or are there other factors? The weather has undoubtedly not helped, but the lack of pickers has also been an increasing problem, with many eastern-European workers heading home.


Article by: Simon Gibson

This is an article from: Insight & Innovation: Issue 4 – click here to read the whole newsletter.