Why Restaurants Shouldn't Be Afraid to Ask Suppliers Hard Questions
Consumers are getting smarter with their choices. In a world of conscious consumers, where their food comes from is something restaurateurs take seriously. Just ask Eric Meisel, the corporate chef for Litehouse.
He wouldn’t feed his family food from a source he doesn’t trust. And for Meisel, Litehouse consumers are family. The chef takes that commitment seriously with an eye toward transparency in food sourcing. Here’s why.
What does food transparency mean to you? Why does it matter?
Food transparency means knowing the entire story behind a product—where it came from, why it is the way it is, and a general knowledge of the ingredients within it. We live in an information age where everyone has at his or her fingertips a device that allows their questions to be answered in seconds. If we aren’t being up-front about what our products are and where they come from, we lose credibility with the consumer, and in today’s competitive market that authenticity is paramount.
How can restaurants increase food transparency?
First, know your supplier and don’t be afraid to ask questions. They can offer a wealth of knowledge and are typically happy to share information about a products lifecycle and ingredients. Second, seek out replacements for suppliers or products that don’t offer a transparent view into the ingredients used. Look for claims like ‘no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors.’ These are among the most relevant claims among consumers today.
Are there any risks restaurants need to look out for?
The biggest risk in food transparency is communicating incorrect information to consumers. Ensure that you’re getting information from a reliable source—one that can be double-checked and researched. It’s also important to make sure you have documentation for any claims you do make.
How can restaurants use food transparency to drive customer traffic and loyalty?
Many of us wouldn’t feed our families food from sources we don’t trust, and the same should be true for what we feed consumers. Having this attitude toward what we do and communicating that message creates brand loyalty. Why would a consumer want to try another brand when they know and trust the authenticity of yours?
Do you think food transparency will become more important in the future?
Absolutely. I think we need to be even more diligent in our efforts to watch how our food is being sourced, produced, and manufactured - standing firm in our belief that food has a story to tell.