food shortages

How are restaurants handling the on-going food shortages?

The ongoing inflation and supply chain issues are sending many restaurants scrambling to edit items from their dishes and re-jig their menus to manage food shortages. According to Restaurants Canada, 96 per cent of restaurants have been affected by this issue, struggling to balance cost and menu design with guest expectations.

With things like romaine lettuce going scarce, or in some cases averaging 30 to 40 per cent more expensive, restaurants are looking for ways to address this while keeping their profit margins reasonable and their dining rooms full.  

Some restaurants are upping their menu prices up to 5.3 per cent, on average, to recoup those rising costs. Passing the increase onto the customer may heed some success, but is it a long-term solution?

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Alternatively, some restaurants are choosing to communicate these issues with their customers, explaining shortages, menu changes, rising prices, and their efforts to keep up. 

“We’ve learned how to better manage our inventory,” said Eric Boyar, executive chef and owner at sixthirtynine. “But it’s not just about that. If we run out of something, we communicate supply chain issues with guests to help them understand and to stay transparent.”

In a recent survey, 94 per cent of people said they would be more loyal to a brand offering supply chain transparency, so consumers are searching for businesses they can trust. Building honest relationships with your customers will benefit your restaurant.

Menu streamlining is something that many restaurants are doing to accommodate the shortages and inflation. This means offering a limited menu that relies on items with stable supply sources so they can follow through on the expectation of consistency with their patrons.

Trimming menus is a good strategy, according to Vince Sgabellone, foodservice industry analyst at NPD Group. “It’s always the case that the majority of sales and revenue are made from a minority of menu items,” he says, making a case for simplifying menus.  

As restaurants continue to be flexible with menu items, adjusting their dishes and ingredients to accommodate shortages as an alternative to maximizing menu prices, customers are turning transparency into trust in their favourite restaurants.