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Facing Inflation in 2023: What are the Next Steps?

Inflation was a massive buzzword in 2022, and for a good reason. Prices soared across the market, leaving businesses scrambling to keep clients happy. Unfortunately, one particular industry fell victim to skyrocketing prices—the catering industry.

Food prices are subject to fluctuation, no matter the state of the economy. From shipping delays and transportation challenges (think: temperature-controlled storage) to production issues (one poor harvest and profits can tumble), food prices are often at the mercy of Mother Nature and the global supply chain.

Though all caterers and event industry pros are familiar with inflation, now is not the time to dwell. Instead, we’re here to provide a solution to your inflation woes. Here are the next steps you can take to address inflation and keep clients happy in 2023.  

Keep each season in mind 

One of the best ways to cut back on costs is to develop menus around seasonal items. This approach helps to avoid spending more overhead on climate-controlled transportation and storage fees. Plus, you’ll have access to the freshest ingredients.

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Opting for seasonal items also allows you to source from local vendors, helping you develop sustainable relationships and receive discounted pricing as you buy directly from the source. Get familiar with local options for each season, and make sure your clients know you’ll be curating a menu that perfectly complements the time of year.  

Negotiate with local suppliers 

Speaking of local vendors, sourcing within your community is a great way to negotiate lower prices and establish meaningful relationships. Once you’ve worked with someone consistently, they’re more likely to notify you of extra savings and sales. Any amount can make a difference over time—especially when prices aren’t as low as they used to be.

Plus, you’ll find added flexibility with pricing on a local level. So take time to look for suppliers in your area and see what partnerships you can build. Bonus: Your clients will appreciate your sustainable practices and support of the local economy! 

Be mindful of food waste 

Food waste is a severe profit-killer for all caterers. And when inflation is already digging into your bottom line, it’s more important than ever to use each item you purchase. Determine the amount you’ll need for each ingredient ahead of time, so you can avoid overbuying.

Make it a goal to get creative with sustainability as well. For example, toss that forgotten parsley into your next pot of gravy or stock. Or sneak a handful of carrot greens and kale stems into a fresh batch of pesto. These small additions won’t drastically change your food’s flavor, but they will help you utilize each ingredient! 

Join a group purchasing organization (GPO) 

One of the best ways to lighten your financial load is by joining a GPO. Similar to a mutual fund, a GPO brings people together to buy food supplies. Members leverage collective buying power to secure better prices by purchasing a high volume of products together.

Bulk orders often come at a lower price tag, but we don’t usually need everything in bulk—that’s why working with others inside a GPO is so valuable. You’ll get the bulk pricing you need to cut costs while only paying for the amounts you need. Easy on your wallet and your schedule, GPOs will help you save money and spend less time on purchasing decisions. Consider joining one in 2023 to boost your bottom line, and rest easy knowing you’ll get what you need to impress clients. 

Inflation has a way of throwing a wrench into your well-laid business plans, but with a few intentional tweaks, you can come out on the other side. So be mindful, source locally, and find the right GPO to make 2023 your most successful year of business yet! 


Clint Elkins

Clint Elkins is the VP Sales for SB Value located in Charlotte, NC. Clint, a former professional race car driver, was one of the top motorsports promoters in the country by the age of 35. Clint used that experience and passion for business to launch his second career in a sales and marketing. Outside of work Clint enjoys spending time on his family farm and coaching his two daughters softball teams. Clint is also an avid cook and self proclaimed badminton superstar.