The current trend of higher prices at the grocery store isn’t just affecting family budgets–restaurants are starting to feel the pinch, too. An industry that was already struggling, thanks to the recession, restaurants have been trying to slash prices and promote money-saving deals to pull in a regular crowd of customers and stay afloat. These tactics have worked, and most restaurants have actually seen a recent increase of clientele. Now restaurants are facing the difficult decision to not only cease these incentives, but raise their prices to keep up with inflating food costs, possibly undoing any gains they’ve recently achieved.
The primary foods shooting up in price are whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and flours. Naturally, these are common ingredients in many restaurant meals, leaving little wiggle room to substitute other ingredients or devise new recipes.
Causes of Price Increases
The cost of transporting foods from distributors to restaurants is soaring. The higher gas prices rise, the more restaurants will need to pay for their food supply. Poor weather has also driven up the prices. With higher demand and less produce to sell, farmers and suppliers must increase costs to stabilize their profits this season.
Creating Customer Loyalty
Developing customer loyalty could save a flailing restaurant when prices are forced upward. Regular customers will typically continue to patronize their favorite restaurants, even in the face of higher prices, so long as they continue to receive the customer service and quality food they are used to. Some restaurants have even posted fliers thanking regular customers for their loyalty, and apologizing for raising their prices.
Some restaurants will be forced to explore other options, rather than lose clientele with a price increase. This could mean switching suppliers or negotiating a lower price with their current ones. Some restaurants may look into purchasing more foods locally, to decrease transportation costs. Some switches can occur without the customers’ noticing a difference, but restaurants should be aware that the quality of their meals might fluctuate when switching suppliers.
Who’s Getting Hit
Two types of restaurants will likely be hit the hardest: small mom-and-pop stores, and chains that are already straining under significant debt. It is likely that bankruptcies and closed doors could be in the future for many of these struggling restaurants.
When you are faced with rising product cost, you are tasked with finding a way to offset these increases. You may be drawn to slightly reduce your food quality, but remember that this will not go over with regulars–or new customers for that matter. You can schedule as efficiently as possible or even reduce your hiring costs by partnering with a professional employment agency.
Rising Food Costs Could Force U.S. Restaurant Overhaul (Fox Business)
Higher Food Costs New Hurdle For Still Struggling Restaurants (Orange County Business Journal)