As anyone associated with the foodservice industry knows, the keys to achieving success are securing a top-notch location, providing stellar service and offering great food. But, as much as those tenets are tantamount to bottom-line success, one factor that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves is the supply network.
After all, what would a restaurant be without great suppliers to provide products and expertise when necessary? Operators may be motivated by rock-bottom prices from suppliers — whether they’re farmers, producers or manufacturers — just as consumers are always looking to save a few pennies. That said, perhaps what’s most important in the operator/supplier relationship is product quality and consistency, timely delivery and an innate understanding of the business itself, with a focus on what operators truly need to ensure their restaurant thrives.
As consumers become more sophisticated and knowledgeable, we can expect they will continue to demand more from restaurant operators. That means today’s operators need to pay attention to where products are sourced, how they’re produced and whether they are, in fact, sustainable and safe.
Understandably, it’s a tough operating environment as both operators and suppliers are under intense scrutiny since the safety of our food is in their hands. One has only to look at the recent meat recalls out west to see the turmoil caused by unsafe products. Is it any wonder we’re living in a period of great consumer activism, where the power of the people fuels food and/or ingredient-specific regulations with greater regularity than ever before?
And we can expect that as today’s customers continue to become more health-conscious and more concerned with what they consume, suppliers will increasingly be pressured to formulate more healthy and sustainably produced products. In fact, speak to any operator and they’ll admit that they turn to suppliers for product innovation.
With that in mind, this month’s issue focuses on the supply network. For the third consecutive year, we’re happy to bring you The Big Black Book, the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide. In the past, we produced this issue as a standalone digest-size publication, featuring both foodservice and hotel suppliers. This year, we’ve reverted back to our roots, producing The Big Black Book in a magazine format, solely for the foodservice industry. And, in addition to listings of key industry suppliers, and a detailed resources section, this month’s features also shine the spotlight on back-of-the-house issues — from Carol Neshevich’s primer on how to purchase food, to Denise Deveau’s examination of how to work with equipment manufacturers, to Liz Campbell’s tips on how to stock a bar.
We hope the issue helps you with your sourcing needs. Ultimately, when you analyze what makes any restaurant successful, you’ll learn it’s all about collaboration. And, without a healthy relationship between operator and supplier, can there really be any success at all?
January 2013 Foodservice and Hospitality Features: