Kinetic12 Consulting, a strategy-focused food industry consultant, surveys restaurant operators every quarter regarding what their top five biggest challenges are. Since the beginning of 2021, challenges like attracting guests, staffing a restaurant, supply-chain disruptions, and inflation have fluctuated in terms of how many operators identify them as a top-five concern.
As of mid-2022, menu cost and inflation management overtook both labor and supply-chain disruptions for the top spot, with 67 percent of operators identifying it as a top-five issue of theirs.
“Inflation has forced operators to analyze what they are buying, and if there was an alternative they could rely on in case it went out of stock,” says David Halt, vice president of foodservice at Red Gold. “But secondly, they’ve also been looking into how to make ingredients they already have in their kitchen work double duty. They’re thinking, ‘Where can I use an ingredient in multiple places on my menu?’”
This slideshow will be a closer look at that idea: how leveraging the versatility of Red Gold products—from ketchup, to marinara, to bloody mary mix—can help overcome these ongoing challenges in order to remain profitable.
Menu Costs and Inflation
In Q4 of 2022, 67 percent of operators named this as a top-five issue, per Kinetic12.
The rising cost of goods has dictated restaurants raising menu prices. That’s created a tension: how high can menu prices go before guests stop showing up?
This is where signature sauces can be so valuable. Consider Red Gold Tomato Ketchup, which can be used to create an endless number of on-trend sauces, from barbecue sauce, to jerk chicken sauce, with just one other ingredient. In fact, Red Gold recently launched a campaign exhibiting which sauces can be made with ketchup and just one other pantry item. These innovations keep both guest interest and margins high enough to remain profitable in the face of rising inflation.
“Red Gold Tomato Ketchup is a core item for a lot of restaurants,” Halt says. “One of the reasons for that is because it has a ton of versatility. Think about the never-ending amount of french fry sauces—these are core items to a brand, and just about all of them use ketchup as a base.”
In Q4 of 2022, 49 percent of operators named this as a top-five issue, per Kinetic12.
One key takeaway of the recent surveys conducted by Kinetic12 is that labor went from being a top concern for 92 percent of operators in Q4 of 2021, down to just 49 percent in Q4 of 2022. However, that drop can be read as evidence that chefs and operators have streamlined their operations in order to achieve better results with fewer people in the kitchen.
One of the ways that’s been accomplished is by using prepared sauces in favor of scratch-made sauces, whether that be Red Gold ketchup, marinara, or pizza sauce. Each product is offered in portion-control cups, freeing up team members in the kitchen to cook rather than portion out sauces. These portion-control products can also be offered as an add-on to various menu items, bringing in a higher margin with zero additional labor.
In Q4 of 2022, 45 percent of operators named this as a top-five issue, per Kinetic12.
When the supply-chain crisis was at its peak, Red Gold staffed its operation seven-days-a-week, for 39 straight weeks, to assure a consistent supply of products, including pivotal portion-control cups of marinara, ketchup, and salsa.
“As the largest family-owned tomato company in the world,” Halt says, “it’s important to note that Red Gold’s success is measured by the success of its customers. That stands in contrast to some of our competitors, which are owned by stockholders of publicly-traded companies that also own large national restaurant chains. You better believe those restaurant chains are getting product fulfillment first—but that’s not how it works for Red Gold’s customers.”
In Q4 of 2022, 36 percent of operators named this as a top-five issue, per Kinetic12.
It feels like a lifetime ago that foot traffic was an operator’s top concern—according to Kinetic12, it peaked as a top concern at 63 percent in Q1 of 2021, before falling as low as 8 percent just 12 months later. However, as recession-like conditions continue to affect the market, foot traffic has re-emerged as a major challenge.
The key to enticing guests is innovation. By leveraging a Red Gold product for unexpected purposes, operators can create imaginative menu items that will be embraced and loved. Consider an ingredient like Red Gold Cocktail Sauce, which can be used on seafood, or in something non-seafood related to create excitement. For example, the cocktail sauce can inspire menu items like Spicy Hot Bacon and Cheese Dip, Spicy Meatballs, Lexington-Style Coleslaw, or Spicy Baked Beans.
The Red Gold Difference
Red Gold prides itself on always having reliable, available ingredients that can help spark innovation, cut back on labor, and help lure foot traffic into restaurants. This isn’t an accident, Halt says, but rather a time-honored strategy that has worked out really well for both Red Gold and restaurant operators during trying times.
“We embrace both corporate broadline distributors and the independent distributor,” Halt says. “What it means is that we are the condiment and tomato supplier of choice for all types of distributors all across the country. When that’s the case, it helps operators. It’s proven to be a winning strategy, because they’re always going to have Red Gold in stock. A lot of large national chains over the last two years, who might’ve never considered another supplier, are starting to create a strategy where they have a strategic initiative to have regional suppliers to make sure they don’t have these massive hiccups we’ve seen over the past couple of years.”
CTA: For more on Red Gold’s core pantry items, visit the Red Gold website.