There is a current trend in the UK of people becoming rather more conscious of where their food is actually sourced from.
Restaurant owners need to take note of this, because sourcing regional ingredients and utilising local food suppliers will benefit you greatly, both in the quality of your product and in the mind of your average customer.
After all, the best way to boost your sales is to give your customer exactly what they want. According to recent research, one of the clear leading factors that customers consider when making the decision on where to dine, is local British produce.
If you’re sourcing your ingredients locally, customers are more inclined to support your business. As well as this, customers would be willing to spend an average further 25% on food if they were aware that It contained British produce.
What makes something locally sourced produce
Most industry professionals will tell you that ingredients count as locally sourced if they are produced within a 150-mile radius of where they’re going to be consumed. In order to gain this type of food, you often find restaurants using nearby farms or suppliers that are close by (neighbouring towns and counties help with these situations).
Benefits of sourcing local ingredients
There are a wide number of benefits when it comes to sourcing locally. View our list below for further details:
- The ingredients are fresher
If you have purchased your ingredients from a local provider, the chances are that they will be much fresher. The time it takes to get from the farm to one of your tables is much lower in this scenario and the quicker you can get them to your restaurant, the fresher they’ll be when your customer sits down to enjoy them. This also means your ingredients are highly likely to be recently picked and grown, with your fruit and vegetables going through much less preservation than if you had them imported from a long distance.
This doesn’t only help you to achieve a greater level of flavour within the meals that you sell, but it’ll literally look better on the plate too. Your food will appear more fresh and therefore, far more vibrant.
- You help out the environment
By purchasing locally grown food, you’re being better to our environment and helping the planet out, which is always a good thing to be a part of. Less energy is used for harvesting when you buy locally, less fuel is used in the transportation process, and less pesticides and chemicals are normally used on crops. This helps the planet and the morality of your business as a brand, making it a win-win situation.
You won’t be alone on your crusade for local produce, either. From the Michelin-starred Le Manoir and L’Enclume, to Tom Adams’ hyperlocal Coombeshead Farm Restaurant, chefs and restaurants up and down the country are embracing locally-sourced food.
- You’re supporting your local economy
By shopping around for your ingredients locally, you’ll obviously helping out your local economy, which is a great thing at any time, but it is especially good during the Coronavirus pandemic. When you buy local you help help to keep money within your own area of the country; the money stays inside your community. This helps to both support and sustain other businesses that are local to you, many of which you’ll come to rely on for your ingredients, so therefore you’re technically helping yourself.
This will also help you to build strong relationships between yourself, other businesses and other business owners. If your business venture ever needs a bit of a helping hand, you may just find that these relationships you’ve managed to build and maintain within your local community will get you out of a jam. This works both ways too, so be ready to support others when they need it if you ever want the favour to be returned.
- Making your brand look good
We may have touched upon this already, but it is a point worth hammering home and taking note of. If you’re using locally sourced produce, make sure you’re letting your customers know, as it’ll likely put you up in their expectations and mind-set. This will help to display a positive image and show that your brand is conscious of where it gets its food from, while also being thoughtful of our environment and economy. This will be the difference between you and your competitors in many cases and might just be the thing that can give you that all-important edge over them in the mind of the consumer.
Potential downsides to be aware of
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Certain people could argue that sourcing ingredients locally may be costlier. Although, this isn’t always the case, especially when you factor in the fact that there’s often plenty of seasonal ingredients and lowered transport costs to think about. Also, as we have already mentioned, customers are on average happy to pay a little more for locally sourced ingredients and will choose quality low costs for the majority of the time.
What is farm-to-table?
The farm-to-table movement started to hugely increase in popularity back the early 2000s and informs us on exactly what’s on our plate back to its original producer. This movement aims to get as many business owners as possible to buy produce from their local community instead of sourcing from abroad. This is a positive movement as it keeps the funds in your local area, which is ultimately more productive for your own business venture.
Difference between locally sourced and organic produce?
Many people mistakenly believe that locally sourced and organic foods are indeed the same types of products because the benefits they both offer are very similar. However, even though the ingredients can be locally sourced and organic, they aren’t the same type of product at all. Here’s a quick look at the key differences between the two of them:
In order for produce to be labelled ‘organic’, it has to pass a rather specific series of regulations. Included in these regulations are often the method of growing produce, the preservation of ecological balance, the use of ethical practises and the use of responsibly obtained energy. Because of these strict rules which must be followed in order to obtain an ‘organic’ label, many people believe they’re making a more moral purchase when they buy organic products.
Locally sourced ingredients are exactly what you’d expect them to be; they come from farms or growers that are nearby to where you live, or where your restaurant is located. Buying from local providers packs many benefits, although unlike organic produce, locally sourced ingredients have to pass through far less rules and regulations. Despite the lesser regulations, locally sourced produce is often of a high quality.
It is important to remember that both locally sourced and organic produce offer their own unique individual benefits. By deciding which suits your business format the most, you may well be able to profit from either selling locally sourced or organic ingredients. For example, a restaurant that focuses on serving hearty food to health-conscious customers, will prefer to use organic produce. Although, a countryside pub may choose to purchase their produce from local farmers. Stick to what you know will work best for you and follow your business plan from there on out.
Benefits to using locally sourced ingredients
There are three key major factors that come along with using locally sourced ingredients and produce, although the benefits actually far exceed these and go even further beyond with their potential positivity.
The three key positive factors are:
Environment – By choosing not to import food from far off places where you don’t need to can help the environment a lot. Do your bit for the planet by choosing locally sourced goods.
Food Quality – The quality of food is often very high when it is locally sourced. It doesn’t take long to reach you and therefore stays fresher for longer.
Local Economy – Your local area will receive a boost as the money you spend on local produce will stay near to where you are based.
How do I start?
The upsides of sourcing locally far outweigh the downsides and as you can now likely see, also have a hugely positive effect on your brand. You can start by just trialling some local produce from a local supplier and then if things are going well, increase your locally sourced goods amounts and watch your restaurants reap the rewards from there.