Choosing Food Suppliers to Restaurants

With inflation skyrocketing this year, with no sign of slowing down, it is becoming harder and harder for hospitality businesses to stay both competitive and profitable. If you are already well established, then you may be thinking of where to cut costs and re-evaluating your suppliers can be a good starting point. If you are just setting up your business, then you will want to make sure that your costs are as lean as possible, without compromising on the quality of your product. Either way, we have laid out the steps to sourcing the best food supplier in your area to suit the specific needs of your hospitality business.

Before we get started, it is important that you choose your food supplier with your head chef (if you aren’t already). Your head chef will be the one who will have the continued relationship with the supplier and will be the one placing all of the orders.


What should the food and drink costs be for my restaurant?

In order to be a profitable hospitality business, you will need to make sure that you have a menu that makes you enough money. As a general rule, you can put a percentage value to the cost of your food and drink compared to the sale price.

These are of course rough estimates and will vary depending on the type of business (fine dining vs street food for example) and the variety of the menu offering. Most restaurants will have dishes with different profitability, some high-profit dishes, and one or two low-profit dishes. For drinks, the costs will vary depending on the type of drink. A spirit will have a cost of around 15% compared to the sale price, whereas wine is around 35%.


What you need to know about your business

Before you can effectively choose a good food supplier, you will need to gather some information about your own business first. Being armed with these details will help you to pick the right supplier for your needs, and make sure that you aren’t spending too much money in unnecessary areas.


Should I use a Local or National Food Supplier?

With costs rising in basically every area, it can be very tempting to look at the cheapest option when looking for your food supplier. National companies can usually offer a bigger variety for less, but is this the best way to look at the problem?

Here are the pros and cons of choosing either a local or national food supplier:

National Food Supplier


Local Food Supplier


Should I have more than one food supplier?

Almost definitely. It may seem that the most cost-effective option will be to pick one supplier who can get everything for you. The bigger buying power of your order will mean that you can negotiate a better price, and everything will arrive at the same time.

However this is never the best route for a successful, quality menu.

Most restaurants will have multiple suppliers depending on what they need to buy in, the location of their venue, and if there is a specific dish or food that needs to be a cut above the rest. If you want a unique bar menu, then you will need a dedicated drinks supplier, or if you have a seafood restaurant then a dedicated seafood supplier who will deliver straight from the boat is a must.


How to find a local food supplier

Now that you are armed with all of your needs, it is time to look at the offerings from your local and national food suppliers.


What makes a good food supplier

Now it is time to narrow down your shortlist and find the best supplier for you. This is what you need to look for:


Tips for getting the best value for money

Now that you have your favourite suppliers, you will want to make sure that you get the best value possible. Remember though, this doesn’t always come down to low prices. You want the best product and service for the best price, so that you can offer the best food and drink to your customers, meaning they will spend more and keep coming back.



Finding the right food supplier can feel like a circus performance. Trying to balance cost, quality and consistency, can feel like a daunting task. Hopefully this guide has helped you to work out a plan of action and narrow down the choices available to you.

If you find a great supplier, then you may buy from them for the full life of your business, but if not then don’t worry. Hospitality is a fine art and can take time to develop your perfect combination of service and product.

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