Operators who can move fast to change their Christmas menus in response to shifts in price and availability will be in the strongest trading position this year, advises hospitality buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.
That could mean substituting beef for turkey, offering sea bass or sea bream as an alternative to salmon, or switching the seasonal veg according to availability.
As inflationary pressures on the sector ease, Lynx Purchasing managing director Rachel Dobson warns: “There are still very likely to be bumps in the road ahead in supply chain terms. For example, we already know that the combined effects of avian flu and supermarkets securing their supplies early will affect both the availability and price of turkeys this Christmas.
“Processed potato products, such as roasties for the Christmas dinner, are commanding higher prices as a result of the impact on crops of this summer’s extreme hot weather in Europe.
“Operators who are able to use specials boards tactically, or make changes their seasonal menus to reflect changing price and availability, will be in the strongest position as their busiest time of year approaches.”
The warning comes as Lynx Purchasing publishes the Autumn 2023 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 crucial key Christmas and New Year trading period.
Dobson continues: “After two years of inflation which has seen food prices increase by 30%, operators now have to try and estimate consumer confidence when it comes to booking festive meals with family, friends and colleagues this year.
““For those operators who need to put set menus in place, in terms of both the meal and the price, the best advice is to speak to suppliers as soon as possible, put orders in place, and agree prices where possible. Those who are able to keep some flexibility in their menu planning will be in a stronger position to offer customers great quality as well as value.”
Product areas highlighted in the Market Forecast include:
- Beef: While demand from hospitality for prime steaks, and roasting joints is high, cuts such as feather blade, flat iron and beef daube represent better value and can be offered as an option on Christmas menus.
- Onions: The wet summer has made harvesting this year’s UK onion crop a challenge, as they are very muddy. This is likely to push up prices of many products which use onion as an ingredient – including the classic sage & onion stuffing.
- Rice: Lower-than-usual global stocks of rice have caused prices to rise, and India’s recent decision to severely restrict exports in order to meet domestic demand will have a significant impact on availability. Offer choices such as quinoa and couscous as main course accompaniments,
- Cheese: Better news is that commodity prices for cheese have come down this year, which makes using it on menus better value. Make cheese a feature in recipes such as a cheese soufflé starter, as well as offering a premium cheeseboard.
Dobson adds: “In buying terms, one way to manage potential price increases, and reduce the impact of supply chain disruption, is to source to home as closely as possible, and to buy produce when it’s at its best in term of quality, yield, value and availability. That dovetails very neatly with consumers’ willingness to support British food and drink producers.
“As the peak trading period in the run-up to Christmas approaches, operators who can spotlight British produce have an opportunity to make their menus stand out as everyone competes for customer spend, as well as give them a reason to come back out in 2024.”
A FREE copy of the Autumn 2023 Market Forecast can be downloaded from the website at www.lynxpurchasing.co.uk.
Notes to editors:
Lynx Purchasing works with more than 2,200 accounts in the hospitality and catering sector, on a no-membership and no-contract.
As purchasing professionals, Lynx works with leading suppliers in the hospitality and catering industry. These include specialist fresh food suppliers, wines & spirits, catering equipment providers, utilities, and specialist service providers such as telecom, business rates consultancy and waste management.
Issued on behalf of: Lynx Purchasing
By: ShielPorter Communications
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