In challenging times, are operator-supplier partnerships the key to F&B success?

The past two years have been challenging for Singapore’s food and beverage (F&B) industry, with a slew of measures taken to keep Singaporeans safe. But F&B operators have remained steadfast in their desire to continue delighting their diners, and diners have shown that food (especially good food) is still our nation’s favourite guilty pleasure.

In these unprecedented times, every business decision can make a big impact on the survivability of a F&B business. This includes factors such as location, rental and manpower – all of which, can determine their traffic flow, overheads and service quality.

One of the most important decisions, however, will be the choice of supplies. After all, chefs need fresh and good quality ingredients to cook up amazing dishes.

This leads us to your choice of suppliers – who do you trust for your ingredients and kitchen supplies?

The growing importance of supplier selection

While supplier selection has always been a key ingredient for F&B success, thinning dine-in crowds and profit margins have increased the level of importance suppliers play in an operator’s profitability.

Choose a supplier that offers great prices on ingredients, and you can immediately benefit from a decrease in your overheads. However, if they’re unreliable and are consistently out of stock, or deliver late, your diners would look elsewhere to have their appetites satiated – while your chefs are left without their most important ingredients.

One industry expert who truly values outstanding suppliers is Vincent Phang, President of the Association of Catering Professionals Singapore and Chief Executive Officer of Tung Lok Millennium Pte Ltd. He says,

What to look for in your suppliers

The question is, “How should I choose suppliers that meet all my needs?” We’ve identified five key traits that your ideal F&B suppliers should have, as these will make your F&B operations easier, smoother and more profitable.

#1: Long-term ambitions

For your continued success, you’ll want to choose a supplier that can also be your long-term partner – not an operation that’s just here to “test the waters”. This is where suppliers with a strong backing and long-term ambitions have an advantage.

As FairPrice Group’s latest business division specialising in B2B food solutions, Chef’s Pantry may be a young brand set up in 2021 – but it’s one that’s rooted in decades of trust and backed by the resources of an industry giant that’s here to stay.

This ensures your supplier can offer you stable supplies, prices and assured quality – all year round.

#2: Extensive range

Are you sourcing your ingredients and other kitchen essentials from multiple suppliers? If so, you’ll understand how this can result in additional logistics, management and costs – and take you away from what’s most important in your kitchen, whipping up amazing culinary creations.

By choosing a supplier that carries an extensive range of essentials – from staples to sauces, snacks, beverages and even kitchen supplies – you can eliminate a lot of paperwork and logistics, and dedicate your time to what really matters. And remember, this saved time also means saved manpower costs!

Eric Neo, President of the Singapore Chefs’ Association and Executive Chef at InterContinental Singapore, shares his thoughts.

#3: Credit facility

As a F&B operator, you know that cash flow is essential for a sustainable business – and so do bigger and more reputable suppliers. That’s why these suppliers often offer credit facilities to operators like yourself.

Even if you don’t necessarily need credit today, the fact that it’s available is an added benefit, should you need it in the future. This also allows you to free up more cash, which you can divert to other parts of your F&B operations – relieving any existing pressures.

#4: Balancing price, quality and reliability

While price is an important consideration when choosing a supplier, be sure to also consider the quality and reliability of your supplier’s products – as well as the reliability and consistency of the supplier’s deliveries to your restaurant. Only choose suppliers with a solid track record of delivering on time, every time.

Singapore diners have proven that they’re not as price sensitive as some would think, and they value quality food that’s consistently good – and when it’s not, diners aren’t afraid to let friends know about it on social media.

On the flip side, continue to delight your customers with a menu they love – and they’ll be more than happy to share their love for your food online!

#5: Value-added services

Recently, some suppliers have started becoming more involved in the success of F&B operators. For Chef’s Pantry, this means stepping out of the typical “supplier role” and being more partner-centric with our customers’ businesses.

The brand collaborates with F&B operators on initiatives that drive awareness and traffic to partners’ outlets. Operators involved in the FairPrice Group’s staff discount programme (initiated by Chef’s Pantry) have their businesses promoted to over 14,000 FairPrice Group employees – filling seats and takeaway orders as they gain widespread recognition.

The role of suppliers in 2022 and beyond

In this everchanging landscape, the relationships between F&B operators and suppliers will continue developing and growing – as both partners depend on each other for long-term profitability and success.

For operators, this means making operations more seamless by consolidating supplies, where possible, choosing a single supplier for all the kitchen needs – optimising profitability and operations, while keeping diners happy with good quality food!

Back to list