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Mastering the Art of Pricing in a Volatile Market: A Comprehensive Guide for Wholesale Suppliers

In the dynamic world of the food and beverage industry, navigating the ever-changing cost of goods can feel like steering a ship in stormy seas. For wholesale suppliers, mastering the art of strategic pricing is not just a skill, but a necessity.

Understanding the importance of psychology behind pricing and how it impacts customer behaviour is critical. We’ve compiled some practical tips and techniques to help wholesale food suppliers to navigate the ever fluctuating cost of goods, whilst maintaining a healthy bottom line.

Tip 1: Gradual Price Increases - The Boiling Frog Theory

Have you ever heard of the boiling frog theory? The theory suggests that if a frog is suddenly placed into boiling water, it will jump out. However, if the frog is placed in tepid water that is gradually heated, it won't perceive the danger and will eventually be cooked to death. This analogy perfectly illustrates the concept of gradual price increases, even if it sounds harsh.

In the context of pricing, customers are the frog, and price increases are the rising temperature. When costs go up, it's crucial to raise your prices slowly. Customers, like the frog, are less likely to react to price changes if they are gradual over time. This pricing strategy is based on the psychological aspect of price perception. Customers are more accepting of gradual changes rather than sudden, drastic ones. By implementing gradual price increases, you can maintain customer satisfaction while ensuring your business remains profitable.

Tip 2: Delayed Price Reduction - The Art of Timing

On the flip side, when costs go down, your strategy should be to delay reducing your prices. This isn’t to be profiteering, but rather, to ensure that you are safeguarding your business against fluctuating costs, whilst also recouping some of the profits you sacrificed by gradually increasing your prices.

Hold your prices for a month, then decrease your prices over another three months or longer.

The key here is to make larger jumps in price reduction so it's more noticeable and appreciated by customers.

This strategy is about timing and perception. By delaying price reductions, you can maximise your profit margins during the period of lower costs. When you do reduce prices, doing so in larger jumps makes the reduction more noticeable to customers, enhancing their perception of getting a good deal. For a deeper understanding of this strategy, Taylor Wells offers valuable insights.

Tip 3: Open Communication - The Key to Trust

If you value the quality of your business relationships, transparency and open communication are absolutely vital, particularly when it comes to price changes. Abrupt increases in prices can have a devastating effect on a restaurant's profitability, and unexpected changes can lead to tension between suppliers and restaurants. That's why it's of utmost importance to keep customers informed about any upcoming price changes.

This is particularly relevant when the costs incurred have increased so significantly and quickly that gradual price increases over a month or two are not feasible.

When communicating price changes, it's essential to use neutral language and provide advanced notice. This approach enables customers to adjust their budgets and expectations accordingly, reducing the potential for dissatisfaction or surprise. Forbes offers excellent guidance on how to communicate price increases to customers effectively, emphasising the importance of clear, honest, and timely communication.


Tip 4: Profit Margin Locks - A Win-Win Solution

Maximise your restaurant's profitability by using profit margin locks instead of traditional price locks. While price locks can provide certainty, they don't account for the fluctuating prices of ingredients. Margin locks, on the other hand, ensure that you always receive a certain level of profit margin i.e (cost +35%).

With Open Pantry's margin price setting, implementing this strategy is a breeze. Simply input the desired margin percentage and keep your costs up to date. Open Pantry will take care of the rest, providing transparency and allowing for easy menu adjustments to maintain profitability. Trust in margin locks to secure your restaurant's success.


Tip 5: Anticipating Price Changes - Stay Ahead of the Game

Understanding market trends and seasonal changes can help you anticipate price changes and plan accordingly. A good example of this process can be demonstrated by the monitoring of the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI), a benchmark that provides real-time tracking of Australian cattle market prices which can help predict meat prices.

For example the EYCI average price c/kg in 2023 has dropped in Jan 2023 from around $1000 to $500. This means that the average cost to you should have dropped by around half. Use this information to help negotiate with supply chains so you can be more competitive with your customers.


You can also apply this knowledge to help advise your customers of upcoming changes and advise them of the proteins to use to weather any upcoming pricing changes. The same can be applied to fresh fruit & vegetables with seasonality & weather. Staying ahead of the game in this way allows you to capitalise on market trends and maintain a competitive edge.

Navigating the Seas of Pricing with Confidence

Navigating the constantly changing food and beverage industry can be challenging, but strategic pricing can serve as your guide through the fluctuating costs. To master the art of pricing, it's important to incorporate gradual price increases, delayed price reductions, open communication, margin locks, and anticipate market trends.

It's important to remember that customers are more receptive to gradual changes, like the boiling frog analogy. When costs decrease, it's best to hold prices steady before making noticeable reductions. Maintaining transparency and open communication with customers is key when navigating price changes. Margin locks, which ensure you always receive the best possible prices, are a win-win solution compared to traditional price locks. And anticipating price changes can give you a competitive edge.

Fortunately, you don't have to navigate these waters alone. Open Pantry is a wholesale food and beverage online ordering system that provides tools like margin price setting and real-time tracking of market prices. These insights can help you make informed pricing decisions with ease.

Are you ready to confidently steer your business towards success? Contact Open Pantry today for a demo and see how we can help you implement these strategies.



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Posted on: November 17, 2023
Posted By: Geoff Philcox

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