One of the most important parts of being a successful business owner is knowing when and how to change with the times. New trends and business models are constantly emerging in the marketplace, and the best food service managers understand that staying on top of these issues is a great way for their operation to evolve while attracting new customers. These days, emphasizing sustainable business practices and providing locally sourced food options are trendy and beneficial movements that are resonating with consumers.
Whether you run a restaurant, bakery, grocery store or commercial cafeteria, you may only have limited experience dealing with local food providers as part of your usual food marketing strategies. However, there are a number of advantages of offering locally grown products to customers. Here are four reasons why you should consider incorporating more local foods into your establishment.
1. Support your community
When it comes to generating goodwill among customers in your area, there are few things that beat taking a proactive stance in supporting other businesses in your community. While this doesn’t necessarily mean giving your direct competition a leg up, doing business with nearby farmers, butchers, bakers and beverage producers can be a great way to demonstrate your role as a key member of your town’s or city’s marketplace. Furthermore, partnering with nearby establishments can be ideal for generating special deals or discounts on your wares that can benefit both of your business models.
2. Improved taste and nutritional content
It’s not a guarantee that locally grown produce or meat from livestock in the area will contain greater nutritional value and flavor, but that often seems to be the case. The reason for this is because fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat gathered from suppliers in your area are more likely to be fresh and free of modifying substances used to preserve food items transported long distances. As a result, your food offerings may be more flavorful, safer to eat and contain a greater number of essential nutrients for your customers to enjoy.
3. Energy conservation
As mentioned above, national food distributors often have to take great pains to deliver their products to restaurants and markets across the U.S. Beyond the preservatives and related processes necessary to maintain the quality of these items during transit, this kind of mass transportation requires a great deal of energy use. Locally sourced products do not need to travel the same distance in order to stay fresh, meaning that the fuel needed for shipments is far less.
This fact can be very appealing to environmentally conscious customers who are looking to support businesses with green practices designed to reduce their carbon footprint. Along with purchasing energy-efficient commercial kitchen equipment and minimizing fuel consumption through smarter operational practices, these eco-friendly factors can all work to benefit the environment while reducing long-term costs of doing business.
4. Greater access to organic products
If you’re looking to continue to break into the eco-friendly food market, going local gives you more access to organic products that are free of preservatives and other artificial ingredients. While organic food items do not need to be the sole focus of your business, they allow you to expand your business model to include a greater number of vegetarians, vegans and others who may have dietary restrictions that make shopping or dining out complicated. Plus, it never hurts to play up the health-conscious angle when dealing with a population concerned about weight management and cutting out fatty, processed meals.