The New Foodservice Challenges of 2021
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, an entirely new set of food service challenges have emerged in 2021. As restaurants and stores start to open their doors, and schools and universities see the return of their student population, foodservice operations are having a hard time keeping up with this new influx of business.
From labor shortages to delays in receiving new kitchen equipment, you’re struggling to keep up. You want to do more than manage your restaurant; you want it to grow and thrive. Here’s a look at the challenges facing you and others in the foodservice industry:
As restaurants have began opening their doors again, they’ve found themselves faced with a labor shortage. Even though the foodservice industry is still down jobs, owners are struggling to find skilled and experienced workers to fill the positions. It seems that many workers who once sought jobs in the restaurant and foodservice industry had to find work in other sectors when the closures left them unemployed, or struggle to secure childcare with small children at home from school. Whatever the reason, finding qualified workers for your foodservice business is one of the largest challenges facing your company this year.
This labor shortage is causing some foodservice directors to limit their hours of operation to offset less labor. Other companies are asking their existing staff members to work longer hours. However, that type of situation can increase stress and cause employee burnout if asked to maintain longer hours over a sustained period of time. There aren’t any easy answers to this particular challenge but hope things improve as we move forward into the year.
Foodservice Manufacturer Equipment Delays
As restaurant owners and foodservice managers return to their kitchens, they’re all excited about the possibility of new equipment, or fixing their old equipment that hadn’t been maintained during the closures. An rise in orders has led to delays with the manufacturers of foodservice equipment. Because of the surge of new orders and the return of full operation, these manufacturers are unable to keep up with demand in a timely fashion. In some cases, you can expect it to take up to 12 weeks or longer.
If you’re interested in updating your kitchen with new equipment or trying out new cooking tools, it’s a good idea to order early and plan to wait for a longer than normal time period. There are times when you need a replacement quickly. When this happens, it’s beneficial to talk to your local distributor and find out if there are any options for faster delivery or any in-stock models that you can take delivery of more quickly. Considering ordering new equipment? It’s a good idea to check with your distributor when you can expect delivery.
Delays of Common Cooking Ingredients
More challenging than the delay of cooking equipment from the manufacturers is the delays in the food chain. It seems that there are delays in common food ingredients that you use each day in your foodservice kitchen. This includes items, such as chicken, and almost every foodservice operation has a few dishes featuring this common protein. The challenge comes from increased demand for certain meat products, and other staples. During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have turned to chicken as one of their favorite comfort food. Whether it’s fried, tenders, or a baked chicken breast, consumers are eating a lot more, and it’s beginning to affect the food supply.
It’s a good idea to have several suppliers that you can work with on weekly basis. This way, if one doesn’t have availability on your much-needed food stock, then you can utilize the others. It’s always a good idea to ask your supplier when you can expect delivery and any shortage issues that they are experiencing. Although the challenges for the foodservice industry may seem daunting, with a little patience, creativity, and planning, you can meet these challenges and thrive.