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Food Purchasing Hacks for Spring Event Season

Spring is upon us, which means it is time to freshen up those event menus. Goodbye root vegetables and hearty stews, hello fresh fruits and light salads! But as you are bringing new energy into your catering company, you must keep an eye on costs to avoid overspending and protect your profit margins.

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As you start to plan out meals for this season’s celebrations, keep these food purchasing tips in mind to maximize your cost of goods and stick to your budget.

Focus on seasonal selections

You will always get the best bang for your buck with seasonal ingredients when compared to out-of-season foods. This is a simple matter of supply and demand—when foods are in season, supply is high and it is much simpler to access products you need! 

Warm Summer Farm Tomatoes (all the Vietnamese herbs, avocado purée with lemongrass, nuoc cham vinaigrette). Photo courtesy Keith Lord

It is also easier to source seasonal items locally, which can save you money on climate-controlled transportation and storage of foods that must travel around the world. Familiarize yourself with the seasonal selections in your area, and connect with local farmers and butchers to establish direct sources!

Know your trends

As with any industry, trends have a way of influencing market prices—again, due to supply and demand. For instance, a temporary ban on avocado imports from Mexico recently caused prices to skyrocket for the crowd-pleasing superfood. 

Grilled local yellowtail, olive oil cured green tomatoes, Temecula olives and wheatberries with Tehachapi heritage grains. Photo courtesy Amanda Canton, Alexander Hunter and Dana Buchanan 

When supply is low and demand is high (as it tends to be with avocados!), those hefty price tags can significantly gouge a client’s budget. To compensate for market volatility, stay tuned into global supply chain trends and encourage your team to get creative with alternative ingredients.

Get Comfortable with negotiation

Did you know that food prices are not set in stone? With market prices constantly fluctuating, suppliers are often open to negotiation to retain your business and keep their inventory moving steadily. So do not be afraid to ask for better rates next time you place an order! 

Do your research beforehand and identify a few items that you feel are overpriced. If a distributor is not open to negotiation, it may be a red flag signaling you to look elsewhere.

Outsource the purchasing process

Navigating the food purchasing process on your own takes up valuable time and requires you to step outside of your comfort zone to secure the best pricing. So why not let someone else do it?

Group purchasing organizations (GPOs) harness the power of collective buying, so you can take advantage of bulk rates without having to purchase more than what you need. Plus, GPOs are experts in negotiation, so you can rest easy knowing you are getting the best deals around—without the extra task on your to-do list.

While these purchasing hacks can save you money all year long, they are especially advantageous as you transition your menus to align with food availability. Consider the change of seasons as a natural opportunity to revisit your food buying sources and habits, ensuring you are always looking out for the best offers and safeguarding your bottom line. 


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.