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Caterers must 'improve their buying'

14 | 06 | 13

Better buying methods are needed if the food service industry is to protect its profit margins. 

This is the finding of a new report on the industry by Lynx Purchasing. It has released its summer 2013 market forecast, which analysed the factors that have caused food prices to rise and looks at how restaurants and other catering businesses can get around this. 

Bad weather takes its toll

The last 12 months has seen poor weather conditions in the UK and across the world and this has impacted on food prices. 

Bad harvests have caused the cost of grain to rise and this has had a knock-on effect on the price of meat and poultry, as it is more expensive to feed livestock. Furthermore, the freezing conditions experienced in both winter and spring hit sheep farmers hard, meaning the price of lamb has increased significantly. 

The fallout of the horse meat scandal has also had a negative impact, as the rise in demand for beef from supermarkets has driven up prices throughout the food service sector. 

Fruit and vegetables have been affected as well, with the cost of potatoes tripling in some cases and the impact of the cold spring means stored crops will be rare until this year's harvest is collected. 

Flexible approach needed

However, it isn't all doom and gloom and Lynx believes that businesses can get around these growing costs by taking a more flexible approach to their buying.

For example, fish and seafood costs still represent good value for money and the company is urging caterers to include more of this food type on their menus.

John Pinder, Lynx managing director, commented: "Some of the best fish caught in British waters is exported because there isn’t enough domestic demand. 

"Summer months provide the best opportunity for restaurants, pubs and cafes to extend the range of high quality, British-caught fish offered on the menu."

He added that species such as mackerel, plaice and line-caught south coast sea bass, will provide particularly good value for money.

Buy better

When it comes to buying products, Lynx believes many businesses are unaware of best practices.  

"As well as not understanding the benefits of ordering in season, when produce is at its best in terms of quality and well as being best value for money, we find that many chefs don’t have a grasp of what yield to expect when they order meat and fish by weight," Mr Pinder commented.

He recommended that caters order meat and fish that is already cut and filleted to size by the supplier, as that will allow them to sell 100 per cent of what they buy, rather than risk wasting food when cutting it themselves. 

The Lynx managing director said that while inflation is unavoidable, it doesn't mean businesses should "just watch helplessly as their costs rise".

He stressed that firms must be aware of exactly what they are buying so as to achieve the maximum value. This will allow them to accurately calculate menu prices at a level that maintains profit margins and keep the business making a healthy profit. ADNFCR-16001031-ID-801599331-ADNFCR

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