“Locally sourced” is a phrase that seems to be getting a lot of buzz in the restaurant industry recently, and for good reason. But if you and your distributor already have a good thing going, changing up your supply chain might seem like an overwhelming amount of work. Sourcing locally doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing, though, and there are many small steps you can take that will allow your restaurant to reap the benefits of hosting local products.
1. See What Your Traditional Food Distributor Can Offer:
“Local” and “sustainable” aren’t just trendy buzzwords in the restaurant industry anymore, and many broadline distributors are catching on. Before you assume that you’ll have to find a completely different supplier to source local food products for your restaurant, sit down with your supplier to discuss what you’re looking for. Many will be willing to work with you to meet your sourcing goals. Sysco acquired FreshPoint almost 20 years ago to begin expanding its locally sourced produce options for restaurants.
Photo Credit: Freshpoint Produce Distributor
2. Head to the Farmer’s Market:
If you are looking to get to know local farmers in your area, there’s no better way to do so than a trip to your local farmer’s market. Many farmers will be more than happy to give you their contact information so you can set up a time to discuss business opportunities with them. If you’re not familiar with local produce that’s available in your area, try the Seasonal Food Guide to learn more.
3. Feature Only Select Local Ingredients:
When first diving into the world of locally sourced ingredients, you may feel put off by an inability to source every possible thing locally. There’s no need to feel any pressure regarding what you can’t find local—in fact, featuring a limited amount of local ingredients can be a great way to showcase your new offerings. Try reading this HGTV articlefor examples on how to feature local ingredients in beverages for your restaurant.
Photo Credit: HGTV
4. Get Creative With Your Local Offerings:
While offering farm fresh meats and produce can be great for your menu, the transition of suppliers and menu changes can be tricky and costly. Consider featuring different kinds of local products that don’t require a huge overhaul—such as beer from the neighborhood brewery, coffee from local roasters, or desserts from the bakery up the street. Local businesses are often eager to support other local businesses, and great partnerships within your community can be formed this way.