March 9, 2023
Lauren Platero

Restaurant Supply Chain Issues and Solutions In 2023

The restaurant supply chain is a complex framework that every business owner of an eatery must handle. Without a simple supply chain, there would be no way to efficiently source, process, and sell dishes. 

Within the restaurant industry, the supply chain traces all the way back to the creation of single ingredients. Plus, it also entails other aspects like shipping, restaurant equipment, and restaurant data. Due to the vast amount of areas, the restaurant manager should have a clear view of it all. 

As products and activities trickle through the restaurant supply chain, restaurant operations should swiftly take place one step at a time. From restaurant supply chain management components to common restaurant issues, we’ll discuss everything you need to know in this post. Keep reading for all the details pertaining to your restaurant supply chain!

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Restaurant Supply Chain Definition 

The restaurant supply chain is a series of systems and activities that allow a restaurant business to function. Think of it as the steps you need to take in the very beginning of running a restaurant. Then, combine that with the daily processes that are necessary to keep the business in motion. 

Every business model relies on a thorough and streamlined supply chain. However, the food service business entails quite a few unique factors. With this in mind, it’s only plausible that the industry encounters a handful of distinct issues. 

But before we jump into those elements, you should understand the components that exist within a restaurant supply chain. Check out the following section for the complete list. 

Restaurant Supply Chain Components 

Restaurants are specific and complex business models. From sourcing the right ingredients for your menu types to crafting each dish, simple processes are a must. If not, everyone from the sous chef to the wait staff can run into numerous problems. 

So, let’s go over the numerous components of a restaurant supply chain. Check it out below:

  • Sourcing and Procurement: The process of purchasing materials, ingredients, and equipment to run the restaurant. 
  •  Production: The process of preparing parts of dishes in advance. Such items may include things like glazes or garnishes. 
  • Distribution and Transportation: The use of warehousing networks and transportation outlets to move materials through the supply chain. 
  • Restaurant Inventory Management: The process of stocking up on the right materials in a timely manner. 
  • Quality and Safety Control: The process of ensuring that all ingredients and dishes are safe for consumption. 
  • The Implementation of Tech Solutions: The use of restaurant technology to streamline and automate mundane tasks. 
  • Demand Planning: The process of forecasting when you'll need to restock items, avoiding overspending and ingredient shortages. 
  • Managing Food Spoilage: The process of making use of all your inventory. Doing so will save money and make the restaurant more sustainable. 
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Common Restaurant Supply Chain Issues and Solutions

If you operate a restaurant, it’s likely that you come in contact with various issues. Below, you’ll find information on some of the most common restaurant supply chain issues. With each one, we’ll go over some tips and solutions for how you can combat them. So, keep reading to learn more about how you can operate an eatery with less stress and greater productivity.

Low Inventory Levels 

Low inventory levels can cause restaurants to be inefficient. It can also lead to a drop in customer satisfaction. By using a restaurant inventory app like BlueCart, eateries can avoid this risk at all costs. Not only will you be able to order from multiple wholesalers at once, but you can schedule each reorder point. When you automate this process right when you’ll be running out of inventory, new shipments will arrive just in time.

Complex Tech Integrations

If your tech solutions require you use a ton of different devices, it can get very confusing, very quickly. That’s one of the reasons why we recommend cloud technology. For example, our off-premise order management solutions reduce the amount of POS hardware that the hosts have to operate. In doing so, sifting through orders and processing payments is a breeze.

Book a demo with us to learn all about it!

Supplier Reliability 

When running a restaurant, especially one with a diverse menu, you work directly with a ton of vendors. Sometimes, the suppliers and vendors you buy your materials from can be unreliable. In these instances, it’s ideal to have a direct line of communication with them. It’s also great if you can shop from a wholesale directory in the event that you need to change suppliers. 

Shipping Delays 

The ability to purchase materials and ingredients ahead of time will help you dodge the risk of shipping delays. This is where inventory forecasting becomes so important. Instead of planning to receive materials right when you’ll be out of stock, schedule them to arrive a few days to a week in advance. This way, you’ll always have what you need, while ingredients won’t be sitting around long enough to expire.

Price Fluctuations 

Inflation and other reasons for price fluctuations can disrupt the restaurant supply chain. But again, this is why a vast directory of suppliers and vendors is so crucial. The ability to price shop and compare quantities is essential to maintaining the restaurant budget. Plus, it helps keep restaurant expenses at a minimum.

Seasonal Ingredients 

When ingredients are in season, they’re delicious. But when they’re not, the quality can spiral downhill. So how do you keep dishes fresh and tasty all year round? Well, you can purchase from suppliers and farmers where certain ingredients are in season. Or, you can rotate your menus every season. This tip is ideal for eateries that shop locally. Plus, it will keep menu options diverse for your customers. 

Understaffed Restaurants

Navigating an understaffed restaurant or an industry labor shortage can be a major headache. But with the right tools in place, the business can be just as productive as ever. Implement digital solutions and labor saving devices that allow the staff to multitask.  From self ordering kiosks to tabletop devices, there are so many options. 

Sustainability Concerns 

Sustainable restaurants often have a streamlined restaurant supply chain. However, ethical and sustainability concerns are bound to come up now and then. These issues often pertain to ingredient sourcing and eco-friendly equipment. So, the major solutions revolve around building relationships with new suppliers.

Food Waste 

Food waste is a common issue in most food service establishments. However, you can stop overspending on ingredients and eliminate food waste by shopping smarter. But what happens in the event that you still encounter food spoilage from time to time? Well, you can set up programs with local food pantries to donate leftover food that doesn’t sell by the end of each shift. Or, you can be really innovative and offer daily menus. Doing so will make the most of what you have, every time. 

Frequently Asked Questions About the Restaurant Supply Chain 

The restaurant supply chain is quite an extensive framework. It comprises many parts that all produce the end results. From sourcing ingredients from a single origin to necessary activities to create each dish, there are so many working parts to it all. Since the restaurant supply chain has a tendency to be a bit overwhelming, we’re about to break down the basics. Read on for a brief overview:

What Is the Restaurant Supply Chain?

The restaurant supply chain is the environment where ingredients are sourced and processed to create goods. So in the restaurant space, this would entail sourcing ingredients and preparing them in order to create menu items. Though all the supply chain processes end up in final dishes, there are many vendors that make up the restaurant supply chain.

What Are the Seven Parts of a Supply Chain?

There are seven parts of a supply chain, regardless of the industry, which include:

  1. Producers 
  2. Vendors 
  3. Warehouses 
  4. Transportation companies 
  5. Distribution centers 
  6. Retailers 

What Are the Four Areas of the Food Supply Chain?

The food supply chain has four main areas, which are:

  1. Producing ingredients and dishes. 
  2. Processing them for retail environments. 
  3. distribution to the public and in-house customers. 
  4. Selling the ingredients and dishes for consumption. 

What Are the Six Supply Chain Strategies?

Six strategies that can enhance your restaurant supply chain include:

  1. Implementing inventory automation tools for accurate inventory counts. 
  2. Choosing the best restaurant supply chain model for your business. 
  3. Implementing cloud technology for unified integrations and access. 
  4. Outsourcing products from where it makes sense to get them. 
  5. Making better use of your tangible resources and equipment. 
  6. Emphasizing the practice of sustainability in your restaurant.

What Are the Five Stages of a Successful Supply Chain?

The five stages of successful supply chain management are as follows:

  1. Planning for the goods and products you’re going to sell. 
  2. Sourcing the materials that you’ll need for the products. 
  3. Creating the products and getting them ready to sell. 
  4. Delivering and selling the products to your customers. 
  5. Handling returns and disposing of products that cannot be sold.
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Key Takeaways

With any system that consists of a lot of activities, there are bound to be frequent issues. However, we hope that this blog posts serves as a guide to tackle any hiccups that occur within your restaurant supply chain. From food waste to planning restocks, there’s a lot to manage. But with the right solutions in place, the restaurant supply chain can be standardized and efficient.