Caterers should be negotiating with suppliers now in order to lock in prices on food and drink for Christmas menus, according to buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.
The firm said uncertainty over pricing and availability is expected to continue to be an issue throughout the rest of 2016 and into next year, as a result of the drop in the pound following the Brexit vote.
The warning comes as Lynx Purchasing publishes the Autumn/Winter 2016 edition of its regular Market Forecast for the catering and hospitality sector.
Rachel Dobson, Lynx Purchasing manager director, said: "We're now clearer on the timetable for Brexit, but not the detail of what it will mean in terms of our trading relationship with Europe and the rest of the world.
"It's understandable that suppliers are building plenty of caution and caveats into their forecasts, and with a wide range of products seeing changes in price, caterers will need to keep a close eye on their costs over the coming months."
She added: "When it comes to produce for Christmas menus, our best advice this year is that it's never too early to start talking to suppliers. Orders that are locked in early provide certainty for everyone, and it looks unlikely that there'll be too many last minute bargains on offer come December."
Product areas featured in the Market Forecast include: turkey, dairy, salmon, prawns, cooking oil and salad.
Dobson concluded: "Our advice to caterers is to be cautiously optimistic. There are clearly challenges ahead, but as ever there will also be opportunities, especially if operators can build enough flexibility into menus to make the most of produce when availability, quality and value are best."
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