Learn how the foodservice industry can stay competitive and fresh amid widespread food and labor shortages.
As consumers watch food prices continue to rise, the demand for cost-effective meal solutions are prompting c-stores, full-service, and quick-service restaurants to increase their offerings. The sudden demand surge is often more than suppliers can handle, leaving many restaurant and c-store operators without staple ingredients. Additionally, there is a persistent gap reported between job openings in the foodservice industry and number of hires. According to the National Restaurant Association, between October 2021 and March 2022 unfilled jobs exceeded total hires by an average of 500,000 a month in the hospitality industry alone. As businesses struggle to attract talent, current staff face further burdens from increased workloads. This makes retention an even bigger concern than attraction for many.
Between coping with erratic availability, inflated prices, and a widespread labor crisis, operators need to make strategic decisions about the ingredients they use. Innovations within the foodservice industry are vital to staying competitive and fresh—and now more than ever, the efficiency and convenience of food products can make all the difference. Pre-made food products can provide simplicity for staff while also helping cut costs, reduce waste, and increase consistency while maintaining a wide variety of menu items. Whether a pre-made frozen dough, a heat-and-serve protein, or ready-to-use sauces and pastes—consolidating ingredients and finding the right supplier can provide that dependable uniformity and superior quality your customers rely on.
Creating Consistency in Foodservice During an Inconsistent Time
In a time with unpredictable product availability and labor, complex recipes can drain a business’ time and money, and risk leaving customers unsatisfied. Consistency is key. Providing the same experience in flavor, texture, and quality keeps customers loyal.
The risk of not receiving the ingredients your business relies on can mean rushing to make last-minute changes to the recipe your customers have grown to know and love. Consolidating ingredients and suppliers can be the difference between continuing to provide a quality product and completely removing it from your offerings. Ready-to-use products not only achieve consistency for the customer but can also create more internal consistency by taking the pressure off employees.
When it comes to maintaining multiple complex recipes, making every component in-house—like a specialty pasta sauce or pizza dough—isn’t always cost-effective or practical. Preparation of each ingredient can be a rigorous task on its own. Considering the labor shortage, assuming trained staff will always be available to perform and keep up with multiple labor-intensive duties can be a huge gamble. The simplicity of ready-to-use food products can reduce this burden on your staff, especially for businesses that needed to downsize operations.
Additionally, training new staff on recipes can come with a learning curve and even tenured staff may overestimate the amount of product they need. These occurrences can lead to increased waste, ultimately driving up costs that your business must eat. Pre-made items are made with precise attention to recipes and portions—resulting in less waste and more consistent offerings. Finding a supplier that operates in accordance with strict food safety guidelines further ensures a high quality product that tastes delicious time and time again. Opting for frozen dough or a pre-made sauce in lieu of making your own can be an advantageous workaround that helps operators optimize their current staff and resources.
Do More With Less and Optimize Your C-Store Business
Making the switch to ready-to-use ingredients doesn’t mean a business has to limit their menu. Prepared foods can be used in a wide variety of ways to help businesses satisfy their customer’s diverse palates. Pre-made pastes won’t spoil as fast as peppers or fresh herbs and can be used to ad flavor or spice to a variety of dishes—including sauces, spreads, soups, marinades, and more. For pizza dough, finding the right supplier can mean having increased access to flavor profiles that your customers will love. In some cases, suppliers can even help businesses customize frozen dough based on an original house recipe, so you never have to worry about forfeiting quality or taste. Pre-made dough can also provide the flexibility to expand beyond pizza to offering other products, like breadsticks or flatbread.
Combat Supply Chain Challenges by Controlling the Controllables
Nowadays, the foodservice industry must remain flexible. While raw and specialty ingredients have been the go-to for many businesses, shortages and sourcing issues are becoming the new normal. Continuing to source and manage multiple bulk ingredients can add stressors that greatly impact your business, staff, and customers. With no end in sight for alleviating supply chain challenges, c-store and restaurant operators need to act fast and focus on controlling the controllables. Taking the time to consider where substitutions can be made and making the switch to pre-made options can provide relief and consistency in an otherwise inconsistent time.
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