The two main areas of Brexit focus for caterers are continuity of supply chain and recruitment. We have prepared a twenty point checklist of questions that clients need to ask their caterers.
There’s been a huge amount of speculation about the effects of Brexit on the UK economy. Within the catering industry, the supply chain is one of the most obvious areas of concern. Especially, if the UK leaves the Single Market without a replacement trade deal. Most analysts are predicting a rise in food prices whatever the final ‘shape’ of Brexit. The loss of EU/UK free trade agreements, WTO tariffs on EU/UK trade and extra customs levies, will affect both the flow of goods and prices. To what degree will depend upon the final Brexit deal.
1 – Have all your caterer’s suppliers been assessed to see how any new regulations might affect operations? A ‘no deal’ outcome will involve new regulations, new registrations and new processes. And, so will a ‘softer’ Brexit to some degree.
2 – What contingency plans does your caterer have to mitigate the impact on the food supply chain, if there’s a “no deal” Brexit? They may not be needed, but this won’t become clear until very close to the deadline.
3 – Will your chefs have access to core ingredients so they deliver the quality and variety that clients and customers expect?
4 – Has training taken place to enable your chefs to create menus that overcome the potential scarcity of certain foods?
5 – Is a ‘collaborative dialogue’ with between your caterer and food suppliers taking place to agree actions to mitigate the potential effects of Brexit on your supply chain? Caterers who have strong partner relationships with suppliers will realise their value during this uncertain time.
6 – Check your caterers are confident that your meat supply will be given priority status. If your fresh meat is sourced primarily from the UK, there won’t be an issue with imports held up at ports. The concern is that other companies affected will try to switch to a UK meat supply and so create shortages and stress supply chains.
7 – What plans are in place for maintaining a ‘Salad Bar’ offer? Fresh produce is likely to be the main category where shortages may occur. Particularly salad items and soft fruits due to their short shelf life and because the UK relies on imports from Holland and Spain at this time of the year.
8 – Is your caterer’s Purchasing Director receiving daily updates from his/her fresh produce suppliers?
9 – What recipes have been devised to substitute fresh ingredients with frozen or canned ingredients, pulses, or dehydrated ingredients?
10 – Can your caterer confirm their stock levels (by days) of your top volume lines?
11 – Will your caterer be collating stock level data from their suppliers every day? Are food suppliers offering to warehouse additional stocks of fresh, ambient and frozen food for you? The majority of dairy products are UK-sourced.
12 – How will your caterer update the on-site catering manager and chefs so they know which products will be unavailable in order to adjust their menus for the following day, if necessary.
13 – Has your caterer outlined if tariffs will be affected by Brexit
Immigration from the EU is at its lowest point in 4 years. An uncertain end result has led to some EU citizens moving back to mainland Europe. Research by UK Hospitality and reports in The Guardian predict that the caterering industry may find it hard to recruit post-Brexit.
14 – Is team member retention a priority for your caterer?
15 – Has your caterer made team members aware that the UK government has said that EU workers currently employed in the UK will be allowed to remain?
16 – What team engagement initiatives does your caterer have in place?
17 – What recruitment solutions has your caterer put in place to attract team members from outside the EU?
18 – Are team members paid competitively with enhanced benefits as part of their package?
19 – Does every team member have an appraisal and performance development plan.
20 – Is succession planning taking place?
You can download the 20 questions to ask your caterer here
To share best practice, we have developed bartlett mitchell’s expert guides for workplace and contract catering. Download the pdf guide to Different types of catering contracts or read our expert guide to 5 advantages of contract catering
Written by Steve Fox, Purchasing Director and Francois Gautreaux, Managing Director.
Download the 20 questions to ask your caterer about Brexit here