We pay what you pay for groceries. No, seriously. We thought that even a small restaurant like us would have some benefit of ‘bulk purchasing’, since we buy for the equivalent of 10 families per week… Nope. Not the case. A couple things we found out: Since we use raw products (vegetables, unprocessed meats, basic ingredients like butter and oils) we are not in the ‘mass-purchase crowd’.
Raw products with short shelf-lives such as lettuce are hard to manage without loss. It is a ‘just in time’ industry that we pay a premium for. We actually pay MORE if we go through a distributor than retail pricing. In my understanding, we actually pay more for these products in order to have ‘guaranteed supply’ and ‘traceability’. Compare that to what you pay.
Carrots – 11.46/ 10 lb = $1.15
Romaine – $29.19/ 6 heads = $4.86
Leaf Lettuce – $17.20/ 6 heads = $2.86
Onions – $10.26/ 5 5lb = $2.05
Guaranteed supply is exactly what it sounds like. If we want 4 cases of lettuce per week, we can’t guarantee that you can get them through a grocery store on the day that customers want. We have to order through a distributor in order to have guaranteed supply. We pay extra.
Traceability is that the lot-numbers and locations of the facilities and their supplies are documented. That’s preparation for recalls. For example the common ‘romaine recall’. In the event that the romaine (from a certain facility) is recalled, the distribution companies can trace who they sent what ‘lot’ to, and do a recall. We pay extra for that. You can click on the images below to see the ‘per pound values and compare with what you pay. Pretty sure the ‘flyer’ is cheaper.
So, in reality, to keep costs down, we purchase most of our produce at the grocery store and pay what you pay. If there is a recall that affects you at the grocery store, (in supply) it affects us. If there is a recall that would affect us, you’ve already heard about it the same time we have, and there’s nothing we can do about that.
We will pay what we have to pay for the products you want. We want to ensure, though, that our customers understand we do not have any purchasing power. We pay what you pay. The biggest advantage that we have over a chain is that we can be seasonal. We can provide what’s in season, and we can buy the best local produce from a small producer. That keeps money in our local economy and that affects all of us as much as eating healthy food.
The mass purchase crowd:
If we bought pallets of frozen breaded chicken fingers, fries, chicken wings, deep fryer fat, frozen cooked burgers, pre-cooked steaks, frozen fish, hundreds of pounds of sandwich meat (per day), buckets of coleslaw, spaghetti sauce, flour, sugar, salt, powdered potatoes and gravy, barrels of soup…etc, we’d get a ‘deal’. But, that’s not what we do.
Interesting thought though… When you see a Truck (with a big franchise LOGO) going down the road, that’s what they’ve done. They have central purchasing and warehouse location where the pallets are dropped off (to get the price discount) and then they distribute to the stores. Their purchasing power is so strong that they can own the warehouse, hire the warehouse staff, own the truck and hire the truckers, and then deliver their frozen crappy products to their store locations. Never thought of it, but that’s how purchasing-power works.