UK hotels are sourcing locally, renegotiating with suppliers and using cheaper cuts to combat rocketing food inflation, a Caterer investigation has found.
Official inflation figures for July revealed that costs of food and non-alcoholic beverages had risen by 12.3% compared to last year, while meat prices were up by 16.3%.
Achille Checuz, food and beverage (F&B) operational manager at the Metropolitan hotel in London, revealed that some food costs had risen by a massive 30-40%.
"We've seen profit fall by between 2% and 3%," he said, "so we've moved as much as we can towards using local products to cut down on petrol costs."
Simon Hirst, general manager at London's One Aldwych hotel, said his team had renegotiated with its top suppliers and were now very strict with waste in the kitchen.
"We're looking at ways we can use parts of food for the preparation of other things," he said. "We're using different cuts of meat, cutting down the choice on the menu and focusing on the dishes that sell well."
Coen Van Nierson, F&B services manager at the Sheraton Park Tower hotel in London and a 2008 Acorn winner, revealed that his team went on upselling courses to help them sell dishes with the highest profit margins.
Robin Sheppard, managing director of Bespoke Hotels, highlighted the rising importance of communication.
"Our F&B managers used to meet once every six months," he said. "Now they meet once every two, to run workshops and a pilot scheme to work out the most economical ways of doing things. Increasing costs have really come into focus this year."
Hirst agreed, insisting that communication is "absolutely critical". "We buy exactly what we need and monitor trends of buying very carefully," he said. "We've actually seen an 11.5% improvement in our food costs."
By Gemma Sharkey
E-mail your comments to Gemma Sharkey here.