Farmers markets, co-ops, organic options, local-sourcing food trends, and the desire of so many Americans for healthier options has made fresh food increasingly popular and driven the demand for it to be available year round—not just when it is convenient to grow in most climates. This makes getting fresh food and doing it right more important than ever.
All of the regulations and requirements put on food producers can make going local to get fresh food complicated, but going local often makes sense for you and your customers. As with most things, the key is to find good partners. Make sure the food producers you partner with have the right processes in place and will maintain their operations, pass inspections, and keep up on their certifications. Check out these sources to help you find local food producers:
Of course, fresh food can be a risk, especially when items are not in season. It is important to be agile and willing to adapt. If you have something on the shelf or menu and it is not selling, make sure you do something sooner rather than later to mitigate waste. In contrast, if you have something that sells well, make sure you secure future orders with your supplier and let them know they should plan to produce more. Another trending technique is using more of the plant, vegetable, or meat, whether in a puree, broth, or other manner.
Finally, a benefit of fresh food is that it can help you establish consumer confidence, especially if customers know that it was sourced locally. Fresh, healthy food options, along with local community support, have never been more popular, so consumers are clearly looking for these options. If they can find them at your store or restaurant, you will have their business.