Menu and recipe planning for the 21st century

Times are changing fast. Digital, return of product, cost inflation, and the growing consumer demand for information puts menu and recipe planning back high up the agenda.

In my first blog in this series, I covered how food-to-go is driving consumer demand in the hospitality industry. So let’s build on that with a quick look at menus and recipes.

The history

In just 30 years, menu and recipe planning and cost control have come such a long way. From hand-written ledgers recording product information and deliveries to the introduction of spreadsheets that lent flexibility to the adoption of specific menu and recipe software, often stand alone, sometimes referencing the EPOS file to help report ingredient and product usage.

Menu and recipe planning in the digital age

Software solutions should be chosen on their ability to scale, be interconnected, and at the heart of the enterprise solution. It’s time to introduce the next generation.

Recording of product data, costs, usage, dynamic cost and pricing and reporting on ingredients, products, recipes, nested recipes, menus, groups of menus — information in all its forms — must be integrated or linked to the enterprise, ever evolving links to publishing solutions for viewing on demand on desktops, mobile and menu screens including video wall, kiosks, phones, tablets, information feeds.

Solutions must be easy to adopt and use and highly complementary to the workings of the hospitality business and kitchen. This is an area with great return on investment, but only if the adoption and usage is seamless with the priorities of costing, sourcing, preparing and serving of great food and drink offers.

Master data

The need for master data is better understood these days. In an industry where the challenges and opportunities come quickly, holding the right data in an enterprise-wide solution is more important than ever. Key ingredient and product information, cost and price calculations, history analytics should all be clear so that it can be viewed internally for control, planning and reporting purposes and the externally for consumer related information to inform and support choice and ordering.

Whether your business is food retailing, distribution, food service or hospitality, integrated master data is now at the heart of production planning, supply chain planning, cost and price control, menu choice including health and preference options, and the ability to adopt new innovative solutions and ways to interact with customers

Scale can be anything from a small number of prepared food dishes to 500,000 recipes, what must be common is the information and flexibility provided and ease of use.

The evolution of this has been from control software in the back office with a printed menu for the customer to a cloud-based solution for the enterprise supporting omni-channel. The hospitality business as an example — previously just addressing eat-in — can support the new demand channels that may come from order-and-collect, order-and-delivery food to go, ingredients for prepare-at-home box meals, or marketing and promotions. Menu and recipe information viewed across a myriad of digital formats must be consistent. Pulling from a source of master data eliminates the mistakes of information being shown on different formats with differing descriptions, pricing or allergen information, all that can result from disparate solutions or lack of integration.

The ability to add information to master data is also now more important: video and media, allergens, health information, provenance and traceability, cost and inflation history, usage, all more key than ever.

The benefits

The key benefit is the ability to plan and record your key information, build ingredients into dishes, dishes and products into menus, menus into an informed attractive offer, and support the recording of usage and data – all enabling the efficiency of the supply chain to cope with expected and more expertly predicted demand.

Consequently, meeting the need for customer facing Food to Go will be easier. In Foodservice, we see the development of more and varied healthy employee offers a critical success factor, along with the ability to generally control costs tighter during a period that is seeing the re-introduction of cost inflation and other overhead pressures brought about by rates, labor costs and legislation changes.

So, in summary, the creation of a robust and scalable ‘Menu-Connected Supply Chain’ is at the very heart of Hospitality/Food Service operations.

In the third and final blog of this series, I discuss some of the key elements of building food-to-go revenues as well as the benefits of having the right supply chain solution.

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