Menu ‘Spring Clean’ Essential To Tackle Food Inflation, Warns Lynx Purchasing

Foodservice operators will need to rethink many core menu items in order to protect their business from inflation and other rising costs in the months ahead, warns buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.

The newly-published Spring 2017 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast comes as the eating-out sector gears up for a challenging year. Included for the first time is ‘the Lynxometer’, analysis of a basket of goods routinely bought by hospitality and catering operators which shows a 9% year-on-year increase between March 2016 and March 2017.

Alongside the impact of food and drink inflation, issues such as the business rates revaluation and the latest Living Wage increase are all putting pressure on operators’ margins.

“We’re urging operators to give their menus a thorough ‘spring clean’ in order to identify dishes where they can build in a defence against the impact of rising costs,” says Rachel Dobson, managing director of Lynx Purchasing.

“For example, the widely-reported problems with salmon supplies, which are expected to mean volatile prices and smaller fillets until the autumn, favours operators who can keep their offer flexible in terms of the fish species they use, using specials boards to highlight the best fish, both the British catch and imported varieties.”

“With British meat in higher demand, driven in part by the rising cost of imports, switching between different cuts according to availability will help to maintain margin on for key dishes such as a Sunday roast. There are also opportunities to reinvent traditional slow-cooked dishes making use of less popular cuts, while still engaging customers with updated recipes and upmarket presentation.”

Other issues highlighted in the Spring 2017 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast include:

  • Continued challenges with imported produce, following wet weather and freezing temperatures in much of southern Europe, at the start of the year. UK brassicas and root vegetables, including Savoy cabbage, cauliflowers, parsnip, swede, turnips and beetroot, will represent better value until home-grown salad lines kick in in May.
  • High global demand for dairy produce; and with many UK farmers having exited the market in recent years, reliance on imports is greater. Caterers have already seen price hikes for butter, cream and cheese from some suppliers.
  • Many wine suppliers have already raised their prices or are planning increases when supply agreements come up for renewal. The lower pound means operators will need to factor in an increase of around 10% in wine prices, although regular wine list changes will make a difference – for example, Australia had a good grape harvest in 2016, so will have plenty of high quality wine on the market.

Dobson adds: “Clearly, we’re in for some challenging times ahead, with food and drink inflation combining with other increased costs. Consumer confidence will be key, so those operators that offer appealing, innovative menus that represent good value will be in the strongest position.

“We’re also emphasising the opportunities to save costs in all areas of the business. Alongside our long-standing partnerships with specialists in areas such as utilities and telecoms, we now work with a specialist business rates consultant able to advise on appeals.”

The Spring 2017 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast, including a FREE download, can be founded at Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast Spring-2017