Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of where the products they buy come from. And with the current health crisis, many people are more familiar with local food suppliers and there is a strong sentiment to support local business. This ideology is no different for businesses in the bar and restaurant sector, which have seen a demand for locally-sourced products from their customers over the last few years.
In Canada for example, 61 percent of Canadians say purchasing local food is important and nearly half would pay up to 30 percent more to get it. A staggering 87 percent of respondents to the survey, which was published by Loyalty.com and reported by CTV News, said they would increase their budget if a local alternative was more readily available.
Meanwhile, in the US, a Nielsen study found buying local is a top priority among 46 percent of American consumers. As a result, more customers have taken to reviewing labels, seeking out products that align with their personal beliefs.
What constitutes local produce?
“Locally-grown” produce refers to food, beverages and other agricultural products that are grown, produced and sold within a certain area. This could be defined by the distance to market, the city or state that your restaurant is located in, or by other regional boundaries.
In reality, there is no clear definition that describes exactly what constitutes a specific product as “local”. Generally, however, it is agreed that food and beverages are considered “local” when it is produced in short distances of where it is consumed.
Whether it makes sense to your restaurant to use local suppliers depends entirely on your specific business. You’ll need to consider a variety of different factors such as:
- Is there a price difference? Will the benefits outweigh the costs if it’s more expensive?
- Will you attract more customers by promoting your restaurant or bar as sustainable?
- What difference will the use of fresh local produce have on the quality of the dishes you serve?
- Will the use of local produce be more or less convenient for the operations of your business?
If you have considered these details and come to the decision that local produce is the right way for your organization to go, then you will likely see a number of benefits as a result. Sculpture Hospitality has listed just five of the key benefits that many restaurants realize when they make the transition to local produce:
1 - Support your local economy
Buying local helps support small businesses in your community, and helps contribute to money staying in your locale. By supporting local business and trade, you are in turn improving the local economy, boosting employment rates and ensuring customers have more money to spend.
In fact, by investing money into local businesses, you are actually increasing the likelihood of customers having money to spend in your establishment. Research from a team of economists at Penn State found that farms which sell their products locally may boost economic growth in their communities.
This economic growth was found to lead to higher income per capita for residents of the community. Stephan Goetz, Professor of Agricultural and Regional Economics in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, said: “We found that for every $1 increase in agricultural sales, personal income rose by 22 cents over the course of five years.
“Considering the relatively small size of just the farming sector within the national economy, with less than 2 percent of the workforce engaged in farming, it's impressive that these sales actually move income growth in this way.”
2 - Fresher ingredients
The average distance that US-grown fruits and vegetables travel before reaching their final destination in the US is about 1,500 miles, according to LocalHarvest.org. That means when your restaurant purchases items from a large distributor, it’s likely that you are buying something that has been preserved to survive the journey.
That simply doesn’t happen when you buy locally. It’s likely that your items will be freshly picked. This means they’ll be healthier, tastier and far more appealing for your customers. By serving better quality food, you’ll increase your chances of retaining customers and hitting those profit targets.
3 - Improving your brand’s image
Locally-sourced produce has become a new trend for consumers over the last few years, and there’s a huge range of reasons why. Locally-sourced produce is environmentally-friendly, often healthier, it helps the local economy and shows that you care about what you’re feeding your customers.
By promoting the fact that your restaurant uses locally-sourced produce, your restaurant will be able to significantly improve its marketing campaigns. Local suppliers are a huge selling point for customers and promoting this through your website, social media and other marketing methods will ensure your business has a constraint stream of new revenue.
4 - You can build a network of trusted local suppliers
Building connections within your community is a crucial aspect of success for many small, medium and even large businesses. Buying directly from local suppliers will give you the opportunity to improve the relationships you have with community-based businesses, leading to better opportunities for your restaurant in the future.
Strong relationships with local suppliers will bring a number of mutual benefits, such as cross-recommending customers to drive additional business for each other, assisting each other with supply waste, and becoming more involved in your local community.
5 - Add interest to your menu through seasonal items
Adapting your menu regularly can be a great way to retain existing customers and attract new ones by spicing up what your restaurant or bar is serving. One of the most exciting ways to do this is by including seasonal dishes that are only available for short periods of time.
Seasonal dishes are cheaper to create, fresher, more exciting for existing customers than your traditional menu and will tempt customers all-year-round since they know they can only purchase a specific dish at certain times of the year.
Just as Sculpture Hospitality believes in local people and real results, we also believe that using local produce can be highly beneficial for your restaurant - helping you to stand out in a highly-competitive market and improving how consumers perceive your brand.
Get in touch with our team of experts today. We would be more than happy to share with you how our innovative food and beverage inventory solutions can improve margins for your business.