With summer quickly approaching, Lynx Purchasing explains how to prepare with a selection of competitively priced seasonal products at their peak
This summer is the ideal time for hospitality and catering operators to give their business a thorough pre-Brexit buying check.
With so much still uncertain, including who will be leading both the country and the ongoing negotiations, buying specialist Lynx Purchasing is advising the industry that it's a good time to make sure robust product sourcing practices are in place.
Rachel Dobson, managing director of Lynx Purchasing, says: "As the Brexit uncertainty rumbles on, we're advising our customers to treat the next few months as a ‘summer break' in terms of their menu focus.
"While every operator is dealing with similar challenges in terms of rising costs and lower consumer confidence, it's important to remember that there are also costs that can be controlled," says Dobson.
The advice comes as Lynx Purchasing publishes the summer 2019 edition of its regular Market Forecast, which offers operators an in-depth look at pricing and product trends over the coming months, using exclusive data gathered from the range of suppliers who work with Lynx Purchasing.
"Overall, the next few months are looking positive in produce terms. Weather conditions have been kind, with no ‘Beast from the East' or similar challenges, and most crops are expected to be good quality across the summer.
"Even though most catering and hospitality operators don't need any reminders that the market is currently very tough, from high-profile closures to worrying consumer spending data, there have been some unwelcome recent indicators of the challenges facing the sector recently. A pre-Brexit buying check could make all the difference to being ready for whatever challenges are to come."
There have been expected seasonal increases in the price of home-produced beef, lamb and poultry, with higher demand for cuts that are popular on barbecue and grill menus. UK lamb is in demand for export to France in particular, while imported beef is in shorter supply, both of which will have an impact on pricing. Suppliers can advise on alternative cuts, which can be better value and boost sustainability by making use of the whole animal.
Fish and seafood
There is a strong export market for UK wild-caught fish, as well as increasing domestic demand as it becomes recognised as an environmentally friendly source of protein. Farmed seafood can often be better value, and although there have been concerns raised in the media buying check could make all the difference to being ready for whatever challenges are to come."
The British berries season has started well, with strawberries to be followed by raspberries, blueberries and blackberries as crops ripen. With berries expected to be high quality, thanks to good growing conditions, operators should make the most of the opportunity. As well as desserts, try using fresh berries to flavour and garnish cocktails and spritz-style drinks.
Native lobsters are at their best from June to September and can be an interesting alternative to crab, where prices have been driven higher by demand from China. Native king scallops will also continue to see strong wholesale prices, while queen scallops should be avoided due to sustainability issues. Mussels should be plentiful from May to August. Suppliers can advise on the best availability of sustainably caught native shellfish.
Jersey Royal potatoes have been very good quality and value this year, which is a good indicator of a better overall potato crop than last year, when supplies were affected by the weather. Home-grown carrots, broccoli and courgettes are also expected to be high quality. Use ‘served with fresh, seasonal veg' as a menu description to make the most of changing supplies.
A range of mushroom varieties are available across the summer, including morels, St George's and puffballs. August will see Scottish-grown girolle mushrooms in season for a few weeks, bringing a fresh and fruity tang to dishes. Appeal to vegetarian and vegan customers by featuring wild mushrooms in specials, changing variety as the season progresses.
Very low coffee prices on the commodities markets have prompted some producing countries to raise questions about the welfare of growers, and call for minimum pricing. With customers increasingly concerned about sustainability issues, operators should be aware of the source of their coffee, ensure they serve Fairtrade or other ethically sourced coffee, and highlight this on the menu.
Dobson adds: "By making simple improvements to their purchasing, and working with suppliers who understand their needs, operators can generate substantial savings that can mean the difference between staying profitable or going under.
"As ever, there will be some product areas that are a challenge, but overall summer is a great time to put good buying principles into practice, with plenty of British produce at its best in term of quality, availability and value."
The headline UK inflation rate in April 2019 was 2% up from 1.8% a month before. The more detailed RPI inflation measure showed that the overall cost of eating out rose by 3% year-on-year, including a 2.8% increase in restaurant meals.
Lynx Purchasing works with more than 2,200 accounts in the hospitality and catering sector, on a no-membership and no-contract basis that offers like-for-like products at lower prices and often at better quality than operators could obtain by negotiating alone.
As purchasing professionals, Lynx works with leading suppliers in the hospitality and catering industry. These include specialist fresh food suppliers, wines and spirits, catering equipment providers, utilities, and specialist service providers such as telecom, business rates consultancy and waste management.
A free copy of the summer 2019 Market Forecast can be downloaded from www.lynxpurchasing.co.uk. Keep up to date with Lynx Purchasing through Twitter and LinkedIn or for more information call 01325 710143 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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