For a catering business, forecasting and planning ingredients and meals throughout the year has its challenges. Changing demands such as the need to deliver food sustainably and to cater to a growing number of consumers who want plant-based foods don’t make planning any easier!
As we head into winter, here are some things to consider:
Seasonal + Local = More sustainable
We all love eating summer fruits (whether they are served on their own or as part of a recipe), but using fruits such as strawberries in winter creates a much larger carbon footprint as they need to be shipped to the UK from countries with a warmer climate.
Creating meals that use local ingredients has other benefits, as well as caring for the environment. Consumers increasingly like the idea of buying from companies that source their ingredients locally and as the seasons change, so does a customer’s appetite for certain foods.
British produce does a great job of reflecting changing appetites throughout the year (although you could argue that it’s the other way around and we have adapted to what’s available!). Raspberries and strawberries are more popular in the summer when they grow locally as people prefer lighter foods including salads but as the winter arrives, we tend to opt for more filling winter ingredients including winter vegetables. Other ‘heavier’ or more warming foods also tend to include more carbohydrates including potatoes with classics such as Cottage or Shepherd’s pie.
Staying healthy this winter
Unfortunately, along with colder weather comes more colds and illnesses and since winter diets tend to include less fruit there’s less vitamin C consumed to protect the immune system. Businesses are keen to promote healthy eating as they understand how more productive and happy staff can be. Helping them achieve this with healthy winter food options is a great way to please both employers and employees!
Winter veg such as broccoli, sprouts and cauliflower are rich in vitamin C and it’s a great idea not just to include them in meals, but to also highlight their health benefits.
Most people don’t realise that one large piece of broccoli contains around 100% of their recommended daily intake of Vitamin C!
Plan demand throughout the week
As well as planning throughout the year in line with the seasons, it’s also important to plan throughout the week. Most people opt for healthier food at the beginning of the week but give in to their cravings later in the week as they become tired or more stressed. This is especially true in winter when there’s less of the sunshine vitamin (Vitamin D) and that ‘summer feeling’ to keep them going! Stocking more healthy foods at the start of the week helps to cope with demand.
While food planning can be challenging, it’s possible to make it easier by understanding seasonal trends and using the right messaging. For example, this can include focussing on healthier foods and highlighting their benefits or pointing out that you source local produce using processes that are sustainable and good for the environment.
If you would like more help and advice with planning for the winter season, get in touch with our food service consultants at Ramsay Todd Consultancy.