The foodservice side of the food industry is trying to emerge from a difficult time, with a pandemic and lockdowns and now rising inflation.
Operators have had to deal with supply chain problems along with this.
While the produce industry that supplies foodservice has been significantly affected over the past two years, operators say fresh produce has been one food group that has been more consistent and dependable compared to others.
“In produce, we view ourselves as more resilient compared to other food industries,” said Michael Grinstead, director of national accounts, sales and marketing for FreshEdge, during a June 29 International Fresh Produce Association BB #:378962 town hall webinar on foodservice.
Three other operators during the webinar confirmed that concept.
“With other food items, we’re kind of stuck when prices go up or supply is too tight,” said Steve McHugh, executive chef/proprietor of Cured Restaurant Group. “Produce allows us more flexibility, like substituting green leaf for kale. Seafood and beef have been tough for us, but produce has been great.”
“Produce has been the one item we can count on consistently over the other sectors,” said Chris Ross, senior executive chef for Hardwood & Oak at Central Bank Center in Kentucky. “Food that has to be manufactured, like hot dogs or pretzels, has been tougher.”
“The price is higher, but we’ve been able to get what we need [for produce],” said Emma Dye, founder, and chief salad officer for Crisp Salads. “That’s not so for chicken or bread.”
McHugh said the disruptions over the past two years have taught him and his partners the importance of flexibility and seasonality in fresh fruits and vegetables. He said this flexibility is reflected in his menus, which are changed twice a day and available to customers online via a QR code.
Everyone, from operators to suppliers to consumers, has to be more flexible and adaptable, McHugh said.