A proposed minimum wage increase elevates the need for products to keep operational costs low.

With recent legislation pushing for a $15 dollar minimum wage, the industry has had to think about mitigating potential costs on top of other obstacles. Bob Fisher, vice president of marketing at Knouse Foods, says COVID-19 has brought a new list of challenges for operators—especially when it comes to labor.

“A lot of restaurants were closed for three months, opened up over the summer, and needed waitresses and servers in addition to the people in the back-of-house. Then, many restaurants had to close again for several weeks as cases began to spike across the country,” he says. “When that happened, there was a portion of laid-off employees who didn’t just go on unemployment and wait for their place of work to open again. Instead, many went out and found other jobs. And when that happens, you have to hire and train new employees, which is especially challenging given the difficult job market.” 

A consistent income can be a saving grace for restaurants, especially as the National Restaurant Association reports the industry runs on a three-to-five percent pre-tax profit margin in a good year. These margins could further diminish once new labor wages come into play. But with the industry also moving to an off-premises model due to the pandemic, rising production costs isn’t the only challenge operators have to weather.

“The existing labor that’s been consistent with the employer now has to be retrained for curbside pickup. As simple as it may sound, there are some logistical things that quick-service restaurants weren’t fully prepared for, such as how many parking spots are now geared for curbside pickup. Are there raincoats for outdoor employees?” says Todd Michael, senior director of the foodservice division at Knouse Foods.

These shifts will get even more burdensome for existing labor if Congress increases the minimum wage. According to a report from the Congressional Budget Office, a minimum wage increase would cost the industry 1.4 million workers. This leaves a reduced workforce with the challenge of adjusting to off-premises habits. As an alternative to this situation, employers can offset potential incoming labor costs with other methods, such as reducing SKUs to portable products like Musselman’s Apple Sauce. Not only does adapting the menu for takeout and home delivery increase labor flexibility, but Musselman’s ready-to-go packaging also becomes an ideal menu item for the offsite consumer base.

Even if employers find a way to predict and ease future labor costs, consumer tastes have already started to change. As an example, Musselman’s has had to adjust its menu by offering 24-ounce portions in addition to its smaller sizes as customers pivot to bigger, family-sized items they can eat at home. 

No matter the workplace changes new eating habits may bring, Fisher says the efficiency of Musselman’s products stand out for operators looking to ease labor uncertainties.

“You take the cup of Musselman’s out of wherever you’re storing it and put it in a box,” he says. “There’s nothing easier.”

To learn more about how Musselman’s can help your brand save on costs, visit the Knouse website.

By Chloe Arrojado

Sponsored Content