It’s no secret that there’s a labor shortage in the foodservice industry. According to projections from The Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents, unemployment is expected to average 3.5% in 2020. For operators, this means there’s no clear end in sight for the labor crunch, and they will need to explore other solutions.
As operators struggle to find labor, fill open positions and reduce turnover, a few strategies can help streamline processes to make up for this shortage.
1. Automate food prep where possible
Certain areas of food prep can slow down kitchen staff. For instance, chopping vegetables, making bread from scratch or cooking and shredding chicken to be used as toppings for salads and other dishes can all take up a lot of time that many kitchens don’t have. Automating these processes—by way of using machinery to chop vegetables, using frozen dough for bread or sourcing pre-shredded chicken, for instance—can help trim the amount of time employees spend on prep. With these tasks automated, employees can prepare for a shift in less time that it would take to do everything by hand.
2. Use speed-scratch ingredients to save time
Analyzing the menu and determining areas of improvement can optimize labor and get the most out of staffers. For instance, where can kitchen staff use speed-scratch ingredients? Signature soups don’t need to be made wholly from scratch, after all. Instead, use canned soups to save time, then offer customizable toppings or garnishes to go along with each soup so diners can make the meal their own. Other recipe components, such as gravies and sauces, can also be made using soup as the starting ingredient. In a tasty, comforting dish such as Broccoli-Cheddar Noodle Bake with Chicken, the sauce can be made with Campbell’s® Classic Cream of Broccoli Soup, rather than from scratch. From there, kitchen staff can add in machine-cut broccoli (saving even more time), seasonings, chicken and noodles, then bake. Using speed-scratch ingredients helps cut down on labor so kitchen staff can spend time on other, more arduous tasks that can’t be simplified or automated.
3. Use versatile ingredients across dayparts and menu parts
Finally, when dealing with a labor crunch, using versatile ingredients across dayparts can help. Simplifying the menu so that staffers don’t have to prepare many different components for every meal also helps with food costs. Nevertheless, simplifying the menu doesn’t mean sacrificing a varied, appealing menu. Canned soups lend themselves well to a host of different dishes—as a base for sauces and dips, and as part of but also pasta bakes, rice dishes, casseroles and even baked goods such as quick breads or muffins for the breakfast bar.
The labor crunch will likely stick around for a while. For operators in need of solutions and workarounds, automating tasks and using speed-scratch ingredients and versatile ingredients such as canned soup can help. Find out more about Campbell’s canned soups at campbellsfoodservice.com/.
This post is sponsored by Campbell's Foodservice