Many restaurants are incorporating organic, local foods into their menus and enjoying increased sales and positive feedback from customers. Why can’t this happen in your establishment? The most common resistance is restaurants think that their customers won’t go for that “fancy stuff” or local/organic ingredients are too expensive. These excuses will be quickly forgotten once operators understand the value that making such changes could bring to their food cost, reputation, and top-line sales.
Adding local/organic menu items doesn’t have to be a wholesale white-washing of a restaurant’s menu. The popularity of local/organic allows you to insert menu items featuring these ingredients anywhere you wish. Michael Ty, CEC, AAC, and ACF National President stated, “Locally sourced food and a focus on sustainability is not just popular among certain segments of consumers anymore; it has become more mainstream.”
Remember when a salad meant iceberg lettuce? Now you can get organic spring green salads in vending machines! And, due to increased supply and acreage of U.S. organic growing, the prices are coming down. The door is now open to everyone!
Clean Food is Purely Profitable
Many restaurateurs question why they should go through all the trouble that comes with purchasing local and organic products. It may be more expensive at times to buy organic chicken, organic vegetables, or grass-fed, antibiotic- and hormone-free beef. But remember – restaurants profit on the sale, not the purchase. Increased portion cost can be more than made up by a slight increase in menu price, as the market is willing to make up the difference. The result is increased profit dollars in your pocket for selling essentially the same dish. A pan-roasted chicken breast with some potatoes and vegetables would normally command 10-13 dollars, but a free-range, organic, pan-roasted chicken breast with organic, roasted vegetables can net 14-18 dollars.
The market is happy to pay more for something they deem as healthy, sustainable, and better for the environment. Bottom line: the customer sees value in it, and we need to charge for that value. You can further increase profits by reducing the portion size of ingredients. Smaller portions are already in vogue, so you can present a natural item without giving it an exorbitant price tag. Slightly more expensive proteins can share center stage with thoughtfully prepared vegetables. Creative veggie presentations are the new center-of-the-plate, and they’re helping to take the sting out of some higher commodity prices.
Introducing organic, local, and sustainable menu items can mean better profits, but there’s an even stronger upside. Who doesn’t want more thoughtfully produced food that was raised in ecologically conscientious ways? It’s not just a trend, but also a shift in the way our industry thinks about doing business. Customers are demanding these types of items, and we need to keep them happy, or they will go somewhere else to find them. We strongly encourage you to try some organic/local items and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to engage your Maines Culinary Team. We are here to help you navigate the organic waters – and to help you become more profitable in doing so.