Plan for changing consumers, says Lynx

Rachel Dobson, Lynx Purchasing

Rachel Dobson, managing director of Lynx Purchasing, urges operators to react to changing consumer trends by working closely with suppliers.

As 2019 gets underway, it seems likely that once again, uncertainty will be the only thing that operators can rely on in the year ahead.

Factors that affected food and drink pricing in 2018, from the spectre of Brexit to unpredictable weather, are still with us, and businesses should plan for volatility as best they can and make sure they are in regular contact with suppliers to be able to plan pricing.

The knock-on effect has continued into 2019, with core pub menu products such as frozen chips likely to be more expensive until the next harvest kicks in. We don’t know if the weather will be kind, but we do know the spectre of Brexit is still with us, and that how it will affect the supply chain is as unclear as ever.

Operators should plan for volatility as best they can and make sure they are in regular contact with suppliers to be able to plan pricing.

Perhaps even more important, though, is the way changing consumer trends are impacting pub menus, with a generation that drinks less alcohol and eats less meat. Whether they’re flexitarian and varying their diet on certain days or full-on vegan, these customer expect to see more meat-free options on menus.

As this trend continues to develop in 2019, one advantage for pub operators is that we can expect industry suppliers to ramp up their new product development and offer an increasing range of fresh and frozen meat-free products and recipe ideas tailored to pub menus, along with an improved choice of premium soft drinks.

One side effect of Brexit is that, regardless of what the agreement eventually says about fisheries, consumers are more aware than ever of the importance of the UK fish industry.

Promoting a broader range of fish and seafood by promoting ‘catch of the day’ style dishes on menus and specials boards, can help support the UK fleet. Operators should work closely with suppliers for the best in terms of price and availability.

With consumers likely to continue to be in cautious mode, buying discipline is going to be increasingly important to control costs and manage margins. Pubs and bars should look carefully at their suppliers and be ready to switch to better deals where they’re available

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