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Earn new customers and build community ties with locally grown ingredients

An Ohio restaurant supplier takes the lead in local sourcing

Choosing locally grown produce is more than a smart business decision. It can help a community thrive. It gives independently owned restaurants a closer tie to the community. It lowers carbon emissions and even offers an outlet for a more creative menu. Taking advantage of what’s grown in and around your community can not only save money, but also offer a unique dining experience for your customers.

Diners demand local

In a 2014 industry forecast, the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) 2013 Restaurant Trends Survey predicted locally grown produce to be the second most popular food trend at table service restaurants, and the fifth with limited service establishments. In addition, the report showed that 91 percent of fine dining, 72 percent of family dining and 73 percent of casual dining restaurant operators said their customers are more interested in locally grown produce than they were two years ago.

“If you look at where the consumer is regarding the sourcing of food and the production of food, they have become much more riveted on learning about where their food comes from as well as the different production methods for that food,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the NRA.

Local ingredients are often a happy medium for consumers, who can still get affordable food with a feel-good edge. “Consumers want to connect with their food,” said Barbara Haumann, senior science writer and editor for the Organic Trade Association. “They want to hear the story behind their food.”

This middle ground can be the perfect (and even preferred) alternative to local produce’s green cousin, organic.

Local vs. organic

What’s the difference between local and organic? Is one more popular? Can consumers even make a distinction between the two green buzzwords?

The rule of thumb held for local ingredients is that they are shipped within a 150-mile radius. Organic food, on the other hand, is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and concerns how the food is grown and processed. Although both types of ingredients have their environmental benefits, local are in higher demand (fruit products with a natural or organic claim declined 58 percent between 2008 and 2011) and often cheaper, since proximity equals lower shipping costs.

In addition, a 2012 Mintel International survey of 2,000 adults found that 52 percent of U.S. consumers said buying local produce overshadows purchasing organic in importance.

That proximity also means less stress on the environment and a smaller carbon footprint for your restaurant.

Local food supports local economies

Independently owned businesses are constantly looking for new ways to infuse dollars into the local economy. By choosing to buy local produce, you’re keeping your money in the community where you yourself do business.

Going local at your restaurant

While this trend is nothing new (it’s been reported since before 2010), incorporating local produce into a restaurant’s menu can seem both time consuming and expensive. Many chefs have to stake out farmers markets, build relationships with farmers to get the best deals and then take time to develop a menu that takes advantage of in–season ingredients.

When you team up with RDP, we eliminate every roadblock to buying locally. The local produce we supply arrives with your regular delivery, saving you hours and cost. And if your creativity needs a boost, just meet with one of our restaurant consultants to develop a menu that fits your needs and customer base. Some of the local produce we can supply includes:

  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Baby carrots
  • Zucchini yellow squash
  • Green cabbage
  • Green peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Basil
  • Red radish
  • Herbs
  • Cilantro
  • Green beans
  • Corn
  • Red round tomatoes

If want to reimagine your menu with an Ohio restaurant supplier, get in touch with the team at RDP today. We offer everything from menu consultations to marketing advice to meet your local produce needs.

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