Delivering the 'Local' Experience: It's Within Your Reach
By Jerry Cerand Director & Category Strategy Leader, Avendra | May 26, 2013
As you think about how you purchase food for your business, consider going local - delivering the local experience is easier, more affordable, and greener than you may think.
As the growing trend of buying locally continues to rise, let's look at some of the biggest reasons why:
- Fresher and Taste Better
Local foods are often fresher and taste better. Why? Local produce is usually picked when it is ripe, in many cases just days – or even hours – before you receive it. Unlike most commercially grown fruit and vegetables in the U.S. that are engineered to withstand travel over long distances, local foods that travel just a fraction of that distance are able to maintain their appearance, taste and nutrients, often without any bioengineering. And we're not just talking about fruits and vegetables. Local foods can also include poultry, beef, pork, honey and dairy products, and in some areas baked goods, like breads and desserts.
- More Variety
Local foods also offer more variety so you can be creative with your menu. For example, small farms offer unique produce items that are often unsuited for commercial food growing. You may find heirloom tomatoes and heirloom apples grown locally versus from commercial farmers. The volume on these types of items is smaller and the product does not travel well. Looking at local farms, foodservice operators can choose from hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables, adding more flavors and colors to their menus. Additionally, since local foods are inherently seasonal, restaurants need to rotate their menu items based on availability – helping keep menus fresh and inventive.
- Local Foods Nurture Communities
Consider the economic impact - local foods support local economies. As hoteliers, you are part of a unique, communal experience. Buying locally helps you build relationships and support business endeavors in your immediate community. Also consider that it doesn't always have to be more expensive to buy locally. While few small farms can compete with wholesale food distributors for steep discounts, their prices aren't always that much higher. Sometimes the higher price of product can be offset by the decrease in transportation costs (that would have been necessary to bring the same product from a commercial farm operation). Additionally, sometimes a locally sourced feature can support a higher price on the menu. Consider these ideas as you look at both your costs and your menu pricing strategy.
- Local Foods Nurture the Environment
Local foods can help support the small farming communities and positively impact the environment. Small farms, once abundant in the U.S., are slowly becoming extinct. Too many farmers are forced out of farming for a wide range of reasons. Supporting local farmers helps keep them in business. There is also a strong case that local sourced products reduce environmental impact. Locally owned businesses making purchases from other local producers require less transportation, which means less sprawl, congestion and pollution. There is also a reduction in the amount of packaging needed to protect products traveling shorter distances versus those traveling across the country (or the world).