It seems like butter is the new gold. The prices for butter and other spreads have been rising inexorably for months: In January 2022, a 250 g pack still cost € 1.65 at the discounter. In May the price rose by almost 40% to the (current) record price of € 2.29. But that’s not all: according to a study by credit insurer Allianz Trade, food and beverage manufacturers have increased their prices in Germany by an average of 16.6% since the beginning of 2021.
What is inflation?
In a free market economy, the prices of services and goods change from time to time – some become more expensive, some cheaper. But when everything becomes more expensive instead of just individual products, we speak of inflation. Purchasing power is dropping and you get less for your money. In the medium term, this also reduces the value of the currency.
The causes are manifold: from a lack of raw materials and supply bottlenecks to poor harvests, all of which has been further exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis and the war in Ukraine. Besides rising food prices, high energy costs are another tremendous problem. Restaurateurs are forced to react quickly to changes and adjust sales prices accordingly. All of this is aggravated by the rising employee salaries due to the legally prescribed minimum wage. The cost hike puts enormous pressure on guests and restaurateurs alike. But instead of simply raising menu prices, here are a few other ideas. And METRO, as an international food wholesaler serving hospitality and trader customers, is also making extensive efforts to secure product availability and to ease the impact on the hospitality businesses through its competence in global sourcing and resilient supply chain management. In the following interview, Bertrand Mothe, Chief Procurement Officer of METRO AG, gives us insights into how METRO sees the current challenges and responds to them.
1. Buy locally
Local products are often proportionally cheaper than anything that involves long distances and high transport costs.
2. Analyse the menu
For example, a popular bestseller on the menu is schnitzel with chips and a small side salad. Instead of raising the price, it would be smarter to simply remove the side salad.
3. Change your habits
You can save money by adjusting the way you cook. Instead of cooking oil, fry with clarified butter or water; to save electricity, cook vegetables in less water or always put the appropriate lid on the pot. And when it comes to shopping, cheaper own brands offer better value for money than many brand products – without sacrificing taste.
4. Shake up the menu
Some food items are currently even cheaper than last year. This includes carrots, bell peppers, lamb’s lettuce, leeks, raspberries, gooseberries, citrus fruits and peaches – as well as almonds, multivitamin juice and frozen seafood. Game has only become slightly more expensive. It would be wise to offer some new dishes so that guests do not have to dig deeper into their pockets than usual.
How consumer prices are faring
According to the German Federal Statistical Office, consumer prices in May were 7.3% higher than the same month last year. The highest mark-ups were for essential household items: oils and fats (up 53%), flours (up 28%) and pasta (up 19%).
5. Change the menu more frequently
Change the menu more frequently in response to special offers at the wholesaler.
6. Add (more) vegetarian dishes to the menu
Meat has become more expensive; and vegetarian dishes with seasonal vegetables are trendy anyway. But be careful: Meat alternatives made from tofu, peas, etc. are usually even more expensive than meat.
7. Try out vegan dishes
Prices for milk, dairy products and eggs have increased by more than 20%. It is time to look into vegan dishes that are completely free of animal products. But the same rule applies here: not all products are cheaper. You should always compare prices.
8. Invest in energy-efficient equipment
From pots and pans to kettles, cookers and freezers – in order to save electricity, it pays off in the long term to invest in particularly energy-efficient kitchen equipment, even if the initial acquisition price is higher. Tips for saving energy are also provided by the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA) at https://www.virtuelles-hotel-und-restaurant.de/
9. Retain employees without a salary increase
Employees are also facing higher expenses. A little creativity can help you retain them and show appreciation: free meals before and after work as well as during breaks, free uniforms and cleaning, pay for their monthly public transport commuter ticket.
10. Talk to your guests
Why have the price adjustments become necessary? What is the company doing to offset the price hikes? Which new dishes on the menu are good alternatives? Talking to the guests and explaining the situation creates mutual.