Growing your business
5 benefits of using local produce for your restaurant business
Recently, there has been a surge in demand for locally sourced produce as consumers are becoming increasingly conscious about where their food comes from. For restaurant owners, sourcing regional ingredients and using local suppliers has many benefits, and can actually lead to an increase in custom and sales.
According to recent research, local British produce was discovered to be one of the leading factors when consumers were deciding when and where to eat out. It was also found that a quarter of diners would be willing to spend as much as 25% more on food if they knew it contained British produce, with some even prepared to spend up to 50% more.
What qualifies as locally sourced produce?
Although there can be some ambiguity around what it means to be locally sourced, many industry professionals agree that local ingredients cover produce that comes from a within a 150-mile radius of where they will be consumed. Often, restaurants will use nearby farms or suppliers within their neighbouring towns or county.
What are the benefits of sourcing locally?
Local ingredients are likely to be fresher as they are essentially going from ‘farm to table’ in a shorter amount of time than imported produce for instance. This means that there’s a higher chance that the ingredients have recently been grown or picked, and fruit and vegetables have had more time to ripen - plus they haven’t had to go through as much preservation before they reach you. This not only has an impact on the flavour of the ingredients but also on the aesthetics with produce looking more fresh and vibrant.
Being Better For The Environment
Locally grown food can also be kinder to the environment. This is due to a number of factors which include less energy being used for harvesting, less fuel being used for transportation, and less pesticides and chemicals being used on crops (although this is not always the case).
Support For Your Local Economy
When you buy local, you’re helping to keep the money within your community which, in turn, is helping to support and sustain local business and trade. This has a knock-on effect on the local economy, local employment rates and working relationships within the community.
There are also mutual benefits for both parties. Building relationships with local farms and suppliers means you can create valuable connections, get more involved with your surrounding community and create more opportunities for your business in the future. One benefit could be cross-recommending customers and driving business for each other. Another benefit could be helping each other out with issues such as food waste. For example, if you work with a local farm they can help you become more sustainable by taking care of your food waste and putting what you don’t need to good use!
Promoting A Positive Brand Image
Shouting about the fact that you use locally sourced produce will certainly do no harm for your image. After all, it shows that you care where your food has come from and are conscious of the impact your restaurant has on the environment and economy.
It can also be a major selling point as consumers are increasingly looking for more authentic and organic experiences from a restaurant. Having local ingredients clearly advertised on your menu could really give you the edge over your competitors!
The Chance To Switch Up Your Menu!
Changing up your menu depending on what’s in season is a great way to offer your diners more variety and ensure that they are sampling the most flavoursome ingredients. In addition, seasonal produce is often more reasonably priced and can offer a wider range of types and varieties. Diners will also be more tempted to try your speciality dishes if they know that they can only sample them at certain times of the year!
Are there any downsides?
Some may argue that sourcing ingredients locally can work out more expensive. However, this isn’t always the case, especially when you factor in the fact that there’s often a higher abundance of seasonal ingredients and minimal transport costs to consider. Plus, customers expect to pay a little more for locally sourced ingredients and will choose quality over price most of the time. If you are looking for some additional finance to help you stock up the right way, check out our Business Cash Advance - a flexible, affordable solution to business funding.
Restaurant owners may also be concerned about not being able to get ingredients at the last minute and the availability of popular items. Having a secondary local supplier can help with this, meaning that you’re always covered.
How do I start?
As you can see, the benefits of sourcing locally can have a hugely positive effect on your business. Once you’ve researched local farms and suppliers, you could start by sourcing 15-20% of your ingredients locally, and then increase this as you build a relationship with your suppliers and figure out what works for you!