Opinion

Why chefs should put produce provenance back on the menu

18 October 2016

Steve Pike, HospitalityGEM
Steven Pike

When planning a new dish for a menu, the ingredients chefs use are given as much thought as the finished product. Yet often on menus, information on the origins of the produce is left off, deemed either too boring or unimportant enough to be included. Steven Pike, managing director of guest-experience management specialist HospitalityGEM has five reasons why it’s worth putting provenance back on the menu 

Keep it simple 

You don’t need to start hunting down wild Alaskan salmon and Kobe beef. Supermarket brands have proved that food sells better when it is perceived to be sourced locally. Earlier this year, one supermarket named products things like “Woodside Farms’ sausages”, and “Boswell Farms’ beef steaks.” The branding, deliberately chosen to sound as if the products came from British farms, is the retailer’s direct response to the consumer desire for provenance.

Additionally, 75% of Brits reportedly make a conscious effort to buy food that's in season, indicating that the desire for local and seasonal ingredients rates highly in the nation's consciousness.

Every operator can benefit

The effect of provenance transparency isn’t restricted to food. The dramatic growth of the craft-beer industry suggests that guests are interested in locally sourced drinks as well. There are now around 1,700 microbreweries in the UK, an increase of 8% in the last year alone, as guests are eager to experience regional and local brewers. 

Show your brand personality

It humanises your brand, and reveals just a small amount of what goes on behind the scenes to provide the best possible guest experience. Bringing ingredients from further afield suggests a level of perfectionism and worldliness in your restaurant, tracking down the right components no matter where in the world they are. Using local suppliers suggests community mindedness, both contributing to, and invested in, the area. 

Raise the dish’s value

A few years ago, The Independent discussed how the language used on a menu affects a guest’s perception of the restaurant. Typically, menus detailing the provenance of their produce were the mark of an expensive eatery. If you want to make your guests aware that your sources and ingredients are something to be proud of, and worthy of your prices, let them know. 

Transparency and trust

It appeals to guests on a practical level too. The regularity with which food provenance scandals break out – for example, the 2013 horsemeat contamination debacle and the furore over halal meat a year later – has fuelled a desire for traceable produce and growing concern about ethical consumption. Guests want to know where their meat comes from, and so by being transparent on this, you demonstrate that guests can trust you. 

HospitalityGEM provides hospitality operators with tools for intelligence gathering, guest engagement and staff learning, working closely with them to help generate revenue growth through effective guest-experience management. Services include mystery-guest visits, online feedback, social advocacy, performance analysis and learning management.

Produce Business UK welcomes letters to the editor and other input from the industry. If you wish to respond to an article on Produce Business UK or join the conversation on any industry issue, please send your thoughts to [email protected]

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