Leading cost reduction specialists Consolidated Concepts announced the top five restaurant supply chain trends for 2017. In the coming year, labor costs will continue to challenge restaurant operators even though food costs stabilize.

“The question becomes, ‘What are you going to do about it,” says Bruce Reinstein, president, Consolidated Concepts. “The best way to make sure your supply chain is covered is to plan ahead while also remaining more nimble than ever. This is the best way restaurant operators can prepare for and easily move through the coming year.”

The pressures of growth and scalability also will dictate how restaurant supply chain operations remain manageable. Here is a look at the top 5 trends:

1. Food costs will stabilize while labor costs will continue to challenge operators

Labor costs are expected to rise and will continue to impact sales and profitability. This will happen despite stabilizing and even falling food costs in some sectors of the supply chain. Some planning ahead will be needed in order to properly budget some food and paper products. Meanwhile being able to quickly change ingredients when costs rise gives operators the flexibility they need to handle the incoming changes.

2. Outsourcing across all layers of supply chain purchasing will become more front and center

“In today’s environment, there is simply too much to do and not enough time,” says Reinstein. This isn’t going to change in 2017. This means supply chain personnel will look for third-party partners to step in as supply chain advisors.

3. Consumers will continue to demand transparency and clean/quality ingredients 

The consumers have been trending this way for the past few years and will continue to do so. They want to know where their foods are coming from, whether they are organic ingredients and how it was processed/prepared. Restaurant operators need to continue to communicate this type of information to their restaurant guests.

4. There will be further emphasis on growth and scalability 

The pressures of opening more locations will continue to split time and resources. Operators should ask themselves if they are opening new stores in the right way. Is your brand sustainable and what are you doing to keep it front and center for the long haul?

5. Operators will need to pay more for some ingredients in order to save more 

For example, buying a pre-shredded chicken saves on labor costs because operators no longer need to pay for employees’ time spent shredding full chicken.  Instead, employees can spend time on other tasks.

“With the coming changes in labor costs, the old adage of ‘work smarter, not harder’ has never been more applicable,” Reinstein says. “It’s time for operators to start spending smarter as well.”

Consolidated Conceptsis a cost reduction specialist for restaurant brands. Their team of industry specialists focuses on the needs of their clients with the goal of reducing costs while maintaining or improving their quality.  Distributor and manufacturer neutral, Consolidated Concepts is a strategic partner of Compass Group/Foodbuy, Fresh Concepts, and Buyers Edge and provides more than $16 billion in buying power.

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