The Benefit Of Supporting Local Produce At Your Pub

Written by: Pub Partners Team
Date added: Fri, 10/06/2016 - 10:00

If you've decided that you would like to run a pub, have you thought about a potential food offering? For many landlords food is an important part of a successful pub business and therefore it's essential to consider what your customers will want, and what you want to be known for. Running a pub with a focus on local produce and local ales is one option you might wish to explore.

Using local produce and featuring it highly on your pub menus could be one of the best decisions you can make as a pub landlord.  It will draw in customers and highlight your pub as a food-friendly destination. You may even be able to widen your customer base as a result!

The concept of local food has been steadily gaining prominence over the past few years.  For hundreds of years, most food consumed within an area tended to be sourced within a 20 mile radius.  The late twentieth century witnessed an explosion in supermarkets and long distance sourcing of produce. There were stories of produce such as carrots being grown in one area, transported hundreds of miles to a distribution centre only to be returned to be sold on the supermarket shelves close to where they were grown. 

As people became more aware of the costs of these ‘food miles’, demand for local food increased. Top chefs such as Greene King landlord Tom Kerridge became involved showing the advantages of featuring local food, and customers began to actively seek local produce out.

Reasons To Put Local Produce On Your Pub Menu

Customer demand is obviously a good reason to put local produce on your menu, but there are other compelling reasons to ‘buy local’. Here we share three, and also how pub companies like Greene King are getting behind our Local Heroes.

1. Support Your Community

By buying local you can support your local community.  Most local food producers are farmers and fishermen, or small companies that cannot afford to distribute widely. Money spent with these local businesses tends to be circulated locally, thus helping to boost the income of the local community – which includes your pub!

It also means you know exactly who produced the produce. All food has to be clearly traceable back to its origins.  By using local produce, you can instantly say to consumers which farm and which producer was involved.  Your chefs can take advantage of local specialities or sudden gluts of a particular product.  Instead of just any old plums, you can use heritage varieties that may only be available in your area.  A local fruit grower may grow 30 or more different types of plums, all of which have individual tastes, aromas and uses. This enables a chef to be much more inventive and creative in the kitchen, resulting in eye catching ‘specials’ on offer.

Finding local suppliers can help make your pub better known within the locality.  Contact local farmers and visit farmers markets to source everything from meat and fish, fruit and vegetables, dairy products and even local beers!

Many people anticipate that local produce will be more expensive, and are surprised to discover that the reverse is often true.  By involving fewer food miles, and buying direct from the producer, the costs of production are lower.  There are fewer distribution costs, and often the quality is higher. Choosing reliable companies as your suppliers helps to develop a good working relationship, which in turn helps to maintain the local community upon which your pub depends for its daily business.

Local Hero Pubs

Greene King have a ‘Local Hero’ agreement specifically designed for those would-be pub landlords who want to promote local produce. This agreement allows you to sell local cask ales so you can feature the best local breweries and micro-breweries in your area.  Local Hero is an innovative agreement that’s all about supporting local provenance in food and drink, and putting the pub at the heart of the local community. If you’re a passionate cask ale enthusiast, you will love supporting your local suppliers by serving locally-sourced food and offering the best cask ale in the area.

2. Food tourism

Worth considering too, is whether by using local produce you can tap into the food tourism market. This is an increasingly important sector as shown by the example of the Melton Mowbray pork pies.

In Melton Mowbray, local producers have gained PGI (protected status) for the Melton Mowbray pork pies.  This means that these pies can only be made in that area. No one else can manufacture them and pass them off as Melton Mowbray pork pies.  It is a move that has brought in considerable trade.  Melton Mowbray is the smallest borough in England, yet it attracts around 50,000 visitors due to its special pork pies.  Matthew O’Callaghan from the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association says that “we can have 12 coaches arrive in Melton Mowbray on market day because we have protected status for our pork pies. The borough has gained about £70m as a result of food tourism.”

3. Freshness and seasonality

Food purchased locally is fresher – or at least it should be!  Many of our Local Hero landlords receive a delivery the same day or maybe even a few hours after fruit and vegetables have been picked.  This maximizes the nutritional value and flavour, both great selling points for your customers. 

Seasonality is regaining its importance within the dining experience.  There is growing awareness among consumers that food that has travelled many miles impacts on sustainability and environmental issues. Mass distribution techniques have resulted in many vegetables and fruit becoming available all year round, due to the fact that they are sourced from all over the world.  Seasonality means you focus on specific food types according to the season. Fruit and vegetables grow naturally in seasons, and ripen at different times.  English Cherries for example ripen around June, so are regard as being ‘in season’ and available for use in June/July. Blackberries tend to be available between August and October, spring lamb between February and June, duck from October to December, crab from April to November.

Customers like the idea of seasonality not just because of environmental issues, but also because it feels like a treat. Spending money on fresh, local asparagus when it’s in season for such as short period of time becomes a bit of a culinary event, and customers activity seek out local produce for this reason.

Furthermore it’s not just in rural areas where the concept of local food is becoming popular.  In the heart of London, one company is now growing salad vegetables in a disused air raid shelter and distributing these throughout the city!

By developing a reputation for providing good quality local food and ales, it’s possible to become a food destination pub where people come specifically for a meal as well as a drink.  What it certainly will do is increase your trade within the local community. All in all, opting for local food to serve in your pub is a win, win situation.