Labor – while it’s a perennial challenge in the hospitality industry, it’s become an especially tough one to manage when inflation and supply chain problems are making so many other aspects of running a restaurant more difficult right now. According to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 1.5 million positions open in the hospitality industry.
Hopefully, your menu is looking different as a result. Labor costs could be lurking in many of your menu items and posing problems not only to your profits but also to your product consistency. Speed-scratch ingredients can help – and while they may have been around for a long time, it’s only now that they are becoming a must-have, labor-saving tool in restaurant kitchens. U.S. Foods, for one, developed its Scoop program to address the labor challenge. Products in the Scoop range, which include produce, sauces, bread products, animal- and plant-based proteins and more, are tested for their labor savings and labeled with a quantified number of the labor hours they save. So their cilantro lime riced cauliflower, which eliminates the need for washing, trimming, ricing, mincing, zesting, blending and portioning, also eliminates 60 minutes of labor per case in the process.
To be sure, scratch cooking is revered, regardless of the economic conditions. But while speed-scratch ingredients are designed to cut back on labor hours, they can actually leave room for restaurants to develop signature dishes – through a special sauce, for example, that is memorable and unique to your restaurant (but faster and easier to prepare than the protein or vegetables underneath it). They can provide a competitive advantage through financial savings, so don’t be surprised if they outlast this period of high inflation and supply chain struggles.