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).
The 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.
The 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.
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.