Restaurant meals are designed to be packed full of flavor at all costs, but they shouldn’t necessarily come at the cost of being unhealthy! Just because you have more free reign to use those indulgent ingredients doesn’t mean that this is your only option for making delicious meals – you can make healthy meals that are tasty, all thanks to quality spices and aromatics. 

After all, it isn’t just the taste of each bite that you need to concern yourself with. You also need to consider how the food itself sits after your customers have eaten. If it makes them feel bloated, full, and in pain to the point where they don’t think the food was worth it, or worse, they tell other customers not to bother going, then you’re not just souring the experience for them, but you are also impacting your reputation.  

The best way to avoid this is to use quality spices, aromatics, and ingredients to evoke that rich, indulgent flavor without bloating. Quality ingredients will make the biggest difference, and to bring that into your menu design, you’ll need to start by using this guide: 

Why Suppliers Matter 

The supplier you work with will connect you with their supply chain, nothing more. While you can absolutely get in touch with your current provider to see if there are higher-quality ingredients, do note you may need to jump ship and look to new horizons. Thankfully, with the sheer vastness of the internet and that little thing known as global shipping, you can find top suppliers like Olam Spices in a jiffy, where you can buy all the spices, herbs, and more that you need. 

What to Look for In Your Suppliers 

There are many factors that will play a part in what supplier you should partner with: 

  • Traceability and Quality Control 

Whenever you buy any product that you intend to sell onwards to customers, then it must be traceable and must adhere to strict quality control checks. You need to be able to trace the origin of all your ingredients. You should also have a food safety report in hand before you buy. These reports test the food for issues like salmonella, amongst other things, so you’ll know it’s fit for purpose and can legally be sold as an ingredient in your restaurant. 

  • Freshness of Ingredients

Fresh ingredients are key to creating flavorful and healthy dishes. Choose a supplier that delivers ingredients quickly and regularly to ensure that the food you serve is always fresh. When it comes to dried goods, however, you have more leeway in terms of the supply chain. A quality, organic spice, for example, can withstand a longer journey than a fresh vegetable. 

  • Availability and Consistency

If the supplier you work with only has the ingredients you need some of the time, they are useless to you. You need a supplier that works consistently to deliver the same, if not better quality ingredients, in the same sum as your last order. When food has to taste the same for person after person, sourcing the same quality ingredients is a must. 

  • Organic or Not Organic 

Ingredients can be either organic or non-organic. Similarly, they can also be fair trade. Know the differences, and buy based on your restaurant’s values. If you align your values with sustainability and market your business as a farm-fresh and eco-friendly brand, then opting for organic products is a must. This not only supports the well-being of workers but also contributes to a better food supply chain.

  • Cost vs. Value

While high-quality ingredients are important, you also need to consider the cost. Look for suppliers that offer competitive prices, and consider negotiating bulk discounts for consistent orders. You’ll usually get additional discounts even on bulk-sized orders just by putting in more than one order at a time. If you manage multiple locations, for example, ordering all the ingredients at once and then distributing them yourself can help you pass on the savings. 

  • How Accessible is the Supplier? 

Consider the accessibility of the supplier in terms of location, shipping times, and delivery options. A supplier that is nearby or has fast and efficient delivery options can help reduce costs and ensure that you have access to fresh ingredients when you need them. Additionally, look for suppliers that have a user-friendly ordering process and good customer service to make it easier to manage your ingredient needs. Having a comprehensive online platform is a great place to start. 

You want to be able to see their full line-up of products in one place and be able to compare by price, type, and additional features quickly. 

How to Narrow Down Your Options 

Using the above characteristics, you should be able to create a shortlist of supplier options. If you require a very niche range of ingredients, you may have to work with multiple suppliers or have so few options available to you that you’ll have no choice but to go with what’s out there. In that instance, you’ll be done with your sourcing and can call it a day. If, on the other hand, you have a few to choose between, then use these steps to narrow down your list: 

  1. Ensure that the supplier in question offers the stock you need.
  2. Review their policies and procedures by asking the supplier for information on their food safety, sustainability, and ethical sourcing policies, and make sure they align with your values and requirements.
  3. Check their certifications and accreditations. Look for certifications such as HACCP, Fairtrade, or organic certifications to ensure the supplier meets industry standards.
  4. Visit their facilities, if possible. Scheduling a visit to the supplier’s facility to observe their operations can mean ensuring that their practices match what they have claimed. This is particularly important for restaurants claiming “Farm-to-Table”.
  5. Contact other businesses that have used the supplier and ask about their experience in terms of quality, consistency, and reliability.
  6. Evaluate their product by requesting samples of the supplier’s products to assess their quality and determine if they meet your needs and expectations.
  7. Negotiate terms and conditions once you have established that the supplier is a good fit for your needs. Remember to negotiate terms and conditions such as delivery times, pricing, and payment terms to ensure a smooth and efficient partnership.

The right supplier for your restaurant will be one that offers the best quality ingredients at the best prices. If you have marketed your business in a specific way, then this might also be a supplier that has similar values to you, so that you can use that as a marketing strongpoint in the future.