Food For All Seasons

Martin Lynch on the seasonality of food.

Here’s a quote from Michael O’Leary:

“At the moment the ice is free, but if we could find a way of targeting a price on it, we would”

Most of us are familiar with the business model that he operates. Low cost, basically translating to very good value, if you travel at certain times. For me this involves knowing when to travel, avoiding the busy seasons & planning ahead.

Let’s imagine a restaurant or a bar run by Michael and based on the principles of seasonality, planning ahead and maximizing profit. Okay from the hip Michael “seasonality”, buy only what’s in season, know the seasons, plan around the seasons & be more profitable by following the seasons, Easy or not? How many kitchens operate this model? How many restaurant, hoteliers or pub owners follow this model?

Seasonality can be split into two models – the seasons for fruit, vegetables, fish, game, meat etc & holiday, Christmas, special occasions such as mother’s day, valentines day and the rest.

The model I want to look at is the seasonality of food. How does a businesses use this on their menus? Are menus put together, planned, costed & structured around buying at the best price, when in season. Have you looked at your fruit & vegetable supplier’s invoices?

Are you using peppers during the winter months, from January to March the price will double sometimes treble. Can you use vegetables like parsnips, turnips, kale, cabbage, butternut squash, etc. available, in season & can be sourced locally by your supplier. The same principle applies to fruit & berries (which double in price out of season).

Seasonality of produce makes economic sense & thus more profit on your food. Talk to your fish supplier ask them to provide monthly list of what’s available & in season. Look at mackerel, red gurnard, Pollack, megrim, great value, at their peak, fresher, tastier & will hold better. Food seasons will give you an opportunity to purchase from local business & they in turn will eat in your premises & support your business. Your menu/food doesn’t need to be exclusively local. Find a balance, it has to work for you & your customers.

Seasonality isn’t exclusive. Get your team familiar with seasonal produce talk to suppliers. Use Google, talk to a group or business that is already doing this.

Imagine a Ryanair restaurant do you think you’d be eating tomatoes, strawberries or “spring lamb” in early January? I bet Michael O’Leary would be serving a profitable seasonal menu in his Ryanair restaurant.


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