Food and DrinkHospitalityNewsPubsRestaurants

Global Conflicts And Extreme UK Weather Could Drive Up Food Costs

Upheaval in the supply chain caused by ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, as well as the impact of storms and freezing weather in the UK, threaten to reverse the benefits of the falling inflation rate, warns hospitality buying company Lynx Purchasing.

As operators plan for the busy Easter weekend at the end of March, as well as occasions such as Mother’s Day, Lynx Purchasing managing director Rachel Dobson warns: “The easing of inflationary pressures on the hospitality sector is very welcome. The price increases of the past two years are now bedded in, and operators can start to plan their menus for spring and summer accordingly.

“However, the supply chain is still very sensitive to shocks, The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is still having a significant impact on cooking oil and grain prices, while disruption to shipping through the Suez Canal is affecting the cost of a wide range of commodities. Suppliers of bulkier items such as catering equipment, are already advising customers to factor in delays.

“Blockades and protests by European farmers also have the potential to affect supplies into the UK, and even closer to home, the first few weeks of 2024 saw a series of storms hit the UK, as well as sub-zero temperatures. Farmers and growers are still assessing the resulting damage to crops, which may not be fully apparent for several months.”

The warning comes as Lynx Purchasing publishes the Spring 2024 edition of its regular Market Forecast, using exclusive insight supplied by the range of suppliers that Lynx Purchasing works with, as well as official inflation data, to look at food and drink pricing in the run-up to the spring trading period.

Dobson added: “The first couple of months of the year are always tough for most operators, and doubly so this year with consumer confidence very fragile. Operators are looking to the Easter Weekend, as well as Mothers’ Day, to encourage customers back into the eating out ‘habit’.

“Any sudden increase in prices, or shortage of produce will very easily deter some consumers, at a crucial time for the hospitality sector. The best advice to operators is to hope for the best, but plan for the unexpected. Place orders in good time, keep speaking to suppliers about availability, and to keep menu descriptions flexible to allow for changes if needed.”