Whether we are buying foods from a local store, a restaurant or an outdoor catering company, the likelihood is that these foods have not been cultivated by the seller but have been sourced externally. There are many and various kinds of supplier to the food industry of differing sizes and scales. Some foods are sourced nationally, whilst others are shipped in from abroad. In this article, however, we look at one particular resource, the local supplier, and highlight some of the benefits, for businesses of obtaining their supplies from their local producers whenever it is possible.
Most people have the impression that obtaining food supplies in bulk from one of the major food suppliers is more likely to be cheaper than going to a smaller local concern. To an extent that is correct but it does not tell the whole story. If a business sources its food supplies from a distant location, the supply chain is likely to be longer (sometimes considerably so) than it would be for foods obtained from a local grower or farmer. This can lead to less predictability of delivery, more difficulty in the management of stock and a much greater time requirement to access fresh stocks. All of these matters can have a resultant upwards effect on waste, which, in turn, will lead to greater cost. Additionally, as we mention later in this article, the proximity of the local producer is likely to bring with it a reduction in the cost of delivery of the supplies.
Therefore, whilst it is be accepted that the baseline production costs of locally sourced food supplies may be higher, this difference is far less marked when it is set against the additional costs of shipping in foods from a more distantly located supplier.
A growing number of consumers have begun to express a genuine desire to support local growers and farmers when it comes to buying foods from stores or as users of restaurants, cafeterias and catering companies. Research into this development has established that here are two principal reasons for this. Firstly, the majority of consumers consider that locally sourced produce is likely to be fresher and free from contaminants. Secondly, many consumers have expressed the desire to provide support from local businesses by using their products for the continuing benefit of the local economy. Therefore, any business that sources its supplies locally is likely to find it to be a customer-friendly strategy.
Consumers are showing an increasing preference for locally sourced food supplies
We touched on the issue of delivery earlier on in this article, when we looked at the matter cost. The convenience of shipping from a local supplier is an additional factor that should not be under emphasised. It goes without saying that the logistics of shipping supplies in from a national or international source are likely to be far less straightforward than from a local business. Shipments are frequently shared between several customers and can be complex and unpredictable and smaller customers have felt that their larger counterparts often receive priority in terms of product delivery.
Conversely, a considerable number of local producers offer a personal delivery service or have their own dedicated delivery company. This can mean that they are able to deliver quickly, cheaply and, frequently require very little notice of a required order. This can result in a great saving in time on the part of the customer, who can devote his energies to the business rather than chasing up the delivery of supplies.
It is obvious that, when dealing with a major national or international supplier, it is difficult to form any sort of personal relationship. The converse of this is true when it comes to dealing with smaller local producers. It is easy to form a close working relationship, almost akin to a partnership, where supplier and customer alike work in conjunction for the benefit of both of their businesses. Many business owners prefer to deal with a supplier with whom they have a personal relationship, engendering greater mutual good will, confidence and trust.
Although many people involved in the food industry still hold to the view that “big is beautiful” it is hoped that, in this article, we have shown that this is not always the case and that the small local producers, growers and farmers retain an important place in supplying local businesses.
Author Bio: This article was written by Billy Phillips, writer for food related blogs and websites, on behalf of All Seasons Catering, one of Perth’s leading catering companies, whose website can be found at www.allseasonscatering.com.au