Restaurants feel pinch, healthy food hits takings

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 17th October 2016

A new study has found many Australian restaurants and cafes are bearing the financial brunt of more customers wanting healthier food and beverage options.

According to 2016’s annual Hospitality Industry Success Index released by Silver Chef, more than two thirds of small café or restaurant owners have introduced ‘healthier’ menu items within the past year. A quarter however remain reluctant to pass on the higher costs associated with these items afraid they will lose customers.

Instead of passing on the costs, half of those surveyed admitted to absorbing the loss by working longer hours themselves instead of rostering on other staff.

Other cost-cutting measures include minimising waste, reducing portion sizes and using cheaper products and ingredients where possible.

Owner of Brisbane café Project 41, Stefan Blee, agreed with the results, saying external costs have skyrocketed.

“Meat and produce costs are double the price of what they were 12 years ago – but because the restaurant and café culture is highly competitive, we want to avoid passing on costs to our customers if we can help it,” Blee said.

Big opportunities for hospitality businesses in 2017

The index report suggests the following are big opportunities for hospitality businesses in 2017:

  • Update your pricing to reflect rising product costs. As long as you communicate clearly why the prices have increased, it is something customers learn to accept – alleviating pressure to work longer hours.
  • Allocate time to working on your business not in your business – even if you just start with an hour a week. Try investing in social media and customer communications so that your audience are aware of your commitment to their health.
  • Consider investing in a refurbishment of your café or restaurant to allow for better functionality or a more relaxed service structure, with less staff required.

Silver Chef provide funding for commercial restaurant and kitchen equipment. The company was established in 1986 and was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in 2005. Silver Chef operates in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.