9/13/12

Supply Issues

Whenever possible, we try to support companies that are off the beaten path. Be it our wines, our beers, our sodas, (and as of late) or our soy ice cream. Yes, it would be easy to get the mainstream brands, but those mainstream brands already have plenty of exposure elsewhere, and we'd like to provide our customers with something that they won't be able to get anywhere.

Unfortunately, that means that supplies are sometimes (if not frequently, in one case that will remain unnamed) An Issue. It's not that our wholesaler is out of the product, but rather that the company producing it ran out of stock, and isn't able to resupply said wholesaler any time soon. So we're in a holding pattern until more stock appears. This is perfectly understandable (in my head, anyway) with produce, because produce has a very fleeting shelf life.

I just wish I would grant the same understanding to the makers of those speciality vegan products. Again, I'm not about to name names, because I do want to support vegan brands, and hope that they all do well. We take pride in buying products from vegan companies whenever possible. It's just frustrating when you want to give those independent companies a shot, and they have Major Supply Issues. Because then our customers are irritated that they can't have ________.

I guess in a way this is why we're so careful to make as much of our products as we can in-house. The major things on the menu depend on raw ingredients that we put together ourselves. If we run out, it is due to the products popularity, and our own ability to keep up with demand. For example, one week, we'll run a soup special, but the weather is hot, so it lasts a few days. All of a sudden, a cold snap hits, and we can't sell the soup fast enough!

I'm guessing that's the same thing that happens with those other vegan companies that produce specific products. Demand spikes are weird and unpredictable. For no reason, we'll get masses of orders for a random thing. And then it will quiet down. It must be even more tough to run a bigger operation, where you have your cost of operation dependent on commodities costs, weather patterns, and other big factors that are way out of your control. For us, a bag of flour costs as much as it always does, and stays more or less consistent. A case of broccoli will fluctuate very slightly, but we don't use so much broccoli that our entire livelihood depends on it. Tempeh, seitan, tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, etc all tend to stay pretty stable on our side.

How terrifying it must be to be (for example) a company that makes beverages from juices (like Maine Root, whom we love) or other raw ingredients, who buy them by the truckload, to have said truckload drastically spike in price, because a nasty rainstorm hit, or there was flooding, or a drought.

What started off as a first world problems type whine has turned into my really having a huge deal of respect for producers of the things we all take for granted. Here's to all the producers of things. Cheers! You're amazing people, and I respect your work.
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