What is a food cycle?
The food cycle is the process by which food is grown, harvested, processed, and consumed.
6 Steps to Managing Your Restaurant's Beverage and Food Cycle
Food and Beverage Control Defined
A restaurant thrives on three operational strands -- the quality of the food it serves, the quality of customer service it offers, and the control it has over its resource (food and beverage) and waste management.
It is, in fact, the third aspect that largely dominates operations. Food and beverage costs are one of the biggest expenses for most restaurants, making up a significant portion of the overall operating budget. Apicbase estimates that the average food cost (including beverages) for most restaurants is between 28% to 35% of total spend.
In addition, food and beverage prices can fluctuate significantly from month to month or year to year. Having a handle on these costs is essential to maintain profitability. Increasing sales and offering good service may not always increase profits. But decreasing expenses, especially food and beverage costs, can do the trick. Given the highly competitive nature of the restaurant industry, even a small decrease in food and beverage costs can have a big impact on the bottomline.
In layperson's terms, food and beverage control is the process of planning, monitoring, and adjusting a restaurant's food and beverage offerings. Food and beverage control aims to ensure that the restaurant sells the right mix of products at the right price, while minimizing waste.
Food and beverage control has a direct impact on food quality and safety too. It involves developing and implementing policies and procedures related to food production, handling, storage, distribution, and service.
Food and beverage control has three main components- menu design, purchasing, and inventory management. Menu design involves creating a menu that will appeal to the target market and generate sales. Purchasing involves sourcing ingredients at the best possible price while maintaining quality standards. And inventory management is keeping track of the ingredients a business has on hand, using them before they spoil, and ordering new supplies when needed. It is a system that can help restaurateurs manage inventory, prices, and quality. It also enables them to create menus and make ordering decisions based on data. In short, a food and beverage control system is essential for any restaurant that wants to operate efficiently and effectively.
The Importance of Food and Beverage Control
Food and beverage control helps a business provide high-quality food and beverages with hygienic and professional service, in a welcoming environment, while ensuring value for money.
A restaurant can avoid overspending on food and drinks by keeping track of inventory and sales. Efficient food and beverage control can help it identify areas it may be wasting resources, like ordering too much of one item and not selling enough. The restaurant can boost its bottomline by becoming more efficient in managing these details.
Efficient food-beverage control can benefit a restaurant in the following ways-
- Increased profits- Efficient food and beverage control yields higher restaurant profits. By controlling ingredient portions, restaurants can reduce their overall expenses, leading to higher net margins and ultimately more revenue.
- Enhanced reputation- A restaurant's reputation is only as good as its last meal. If it frequently runs out of popular items, takes too long to fulfil orders, or worse, uses spoiled or expired ingredients, its reputation will suffer. On the other hand, a well-run restaurant with efficient food and beverage control will be known for its excellent service, attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.
- Reduced waste- Wastage is one of the hospitality industry's biggest problems today. Many restaurants cut corners by serving smaller portions or using low-quality ingredients to reduce costs and increase profits. However, this often results in dissatisfied customers who do not return or leave negative reviews online. By efficiently managing food scraps and other waste, restaurants can avoid these costly mistakes and focus instead on providing a high-quality dining experience that keeps guests coming back for more.
- Better staff performance- When kitchen staff have all the resources available to them, when they work under ideal conditions, and don't have to hunt for replacements for expired ingredients or wait for ordered ingredients to arrive, their work is more efficient.
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Step 1- Develop a Plan
Beverage and food cycle control is important for any restaurant that wants to comply with health codes and avoid waste. But, like everything else, having a plan is essential.
- Establish baseline stock levels- You'll need to know how much of each ingredient or beverage you typically need in a day, week, or month. You can do this by keeping track of sales data and using it to estimate consumption.
- Evaluate wastefulness- Your restaurant's current wastefulness is the measure of how much food and drink you throw out daily. Could you donate or compost this waste instead? Research the most efficient way to implement a composting program at your establishment. Take help from local experts if needed. Educate staff on the importance of maintaining good hygiene and handling food safely. This goes a long way in reducing waste. A food handlers course, like the one offered by Zipfoodhandler, covers these areas.
- Set goals and targets- Once there is a better understanding of the current situation, set goals for how much waste can be reduced. Make sure these targets are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
- Make adjustments when needed- Based on the data you collect, you may need to make changes to your stock levels, portion sizes, and other aspects of your beverage-food cycle control plan. By constantly monitoring and adjusting your procedures, you can ensure that your restaurant runs as efficiently as possible.
Step 2- Purchase Quality Ingredients From Approved Vendors
A surefire way of ensuring better food cycle control is to purchase quality ingredients from approved vendors.
- It helps ensure consistent food quality and preference. When restaurants purchase ingredients from different vendors, there's risk of the quality of ingredients varying. This can lead to inconsistency in the taste and appearance of dishes, which will ultimately disappoint customers.
- By sourcing ingredients from approved vendors, restaurants can be confident that they are receiving products that meet their standards. Food safety experts carefully vet approved vendors to ensure they meet quality and safety protocols.
- By using approved vendors, a restaurant can be sure that they are getting fresh products that have not been contaminated.
Step 3- Manage Inventory
Defined most simply, inventory management is tracking and managing inventory to help ensure that businesses have the right stock levels to meet customer demands.
There are a few key reasons why inventory management is integral to food cycle control-
- It helps ensure that food products are available when needed. This is especially important for perishable items, which can spoil if not used promptly.
- Inventory management can help prevent waste by ensuring that surplus food is used up before it goes bad.
- It can help keep costs down by preventing overstock and avoiding the need to purchase replacement items prematurely.
- Efficient inventory management ensures that all stakeholders have access to accurate and up-to-date information about what products are available. This helps avoid costly errors and misunderstandings.
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Step 4- Forecast Menu Items
For any business that offers prepared food services, even the most efficient inventory management is a pointless exercise if it doesn't have the right mix of menu items that appeals to the target market and generates sales. But how does one know what items will be popular and generate most revenue? Menu forecasting!
Restaurant operators use surveys, focus groups, historical sales data analysis, and customer segmentation for forecasting. A business can either choose one method or a combination of methods that works for them.
The forecast figures can be used to identify potential areas of over- and under-supply, allowing operators to make necessary adjustments to their menus. It also helps restaurants track customer behavior trends and adjust their offerings accordingly.
Forecasting the menu is significant for food cycle control because it allows restaurateurs to order the necessary supplies, schedule kitchen staff accordingly, and inform front-of-house personnel about what's on offer.
This is followed by recipe standardization, which gives operators an accurate idea of how much product needs to be purchased, so as to avoid overspending on inventory or running out of key ingredients. It can also help reduce food waste by ensuring that all perishable items are used before they expire.
Step 5- Optimize Storage Practices to Prevent Spoilage
The restaurant business is all about timing. Getting ingredients delivered on time, preparing dishes on time, and serving them on time. If any part of the process is not handled well, it can significantly impact customer experience. That's why good storage practices are important in a restaurant. They allow an operator to track inventory and ensure everything is where it needs to be, when it is needed.
Storage is, in fact, another important feature of food cycle control. A well-ordered storage system helps prevent contamination and spoilage and enables the restaurant to observe food safety guidelines. Proper food storage is especially important for perishable items such as meat and dairy products. It also helps minimize food waste by keeping food fresh and usable for longer periods, ultimately giving operators a firm handle on food costs.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has a set of guidelines on food storage for commercial kitchens. These are designed to help restaurant operators ensure that their food is safe to eat and minimizes the risk of foodborne illnesses. As per FDA's Food Code, all restaurants must keep food at safe temperatures to prevent bacterial growth. Perishable foods such as meat, seafood, poultry, and eggs must be kept at 40 F or below, while non-perishable items such as rice and pasta can be stored at room temperature. Foods that are cooked should be served immediately or within two hours if they are kept at 140 F or above. Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of being served.
A comprehensive food handlers course, like ZipFoodhandler, provides tutorials on safe and healthy food preparation, handling and storage, to minimize the risk of contamination. It covers topics like how to keep food clean, how to avoid cross-contamination, and how to maintain proper temperature control. By following the recommendations of the course, restaurants can make sure their food is safe to eat.
Step 6- Implement Beverage Control
It's as important to manage beverage costs as it is to manage food costs. Beverage control involves managing alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks so that they are sold at a profitable price, minimizing spillage and wastage, and providing customers value for money. Here are the main steps to good beverage control-
- Purchasing- Choose the right suppliers and negotiate prices.
- Stocking- Store your beverages properly so that they are well organized and fresh.
- Serving- Exercise portion control to ensure that each drink is the same size. Buy the right measuring cups or jiggers.
- Price determination- Set a price for each drink that will cover the cost of the ingredients plus the desired profit margin.
- Cost analysis- Track the actual costs of all beverage ingredients and compare them to prices charged for drinks. This step allows an operator to identify areas where costs are higher than expected and make changes accordingly.
In a nutshell, beverage and food cycle control includes-
- Purchasing quality ingredients from approved vendors.
- Storing ingredients properly to maintain freshness and prevent spoilage.
- Evaluating all aspects of a food and beverage operation regularly to identify opportunities for improvement, control food and beverage costs, and structure a waste management plan.
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