Restaurants Canada, a national, not-for-profit association representing more than 30,000 foodservice professionals, has launched a campaign aiming to provide policy solutions for Alberta’s next government.
“Since 2015, restaurants across Alberta have been battling a perfect storm of operational cost increases from a variety of policy changes, against the backdrop of a weakened economy,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada vice president, Western Canada. “Working together with Restaurants Canada, Alberta’s next government has an opportunity to improve conditions for foodservice businesses so that they can continue serving communities across this province.”
The organization’s campaign, Restaurant Realities, also aims to raise awareness of the current issues facing Alberta’s foodservice sector, including:
- A loss of more than 10,000 foodservice and accommodation jobs.
- A decline in the average number of workers per unit from 13 to 11.7.
- A 9.1 per cent drop in average sales per unit (adjusted for menu inflation).
Restaurants Canada pointed out in a recent media release, “For years, Alberta’s restaurant sector led the nation, contributing to jobs, tourism, investment and spaces for people to come together. Alberta’s foodservice sales growth now ranks second-to-last of all the provinces in Canada due to several setbacks caused by operational cost increases from legislative and regulatory changes. Policies that were intended to boost earnings and reduce the cost of living for Albertans have instead resulted in a foodservice crisis.”
An industry already known for it its tight margins, Restaurants Canada estimates that foodservice providers in Alberta average a pre-tax profitability of just 5 per cent, and breaks down financial operating revenues as follows:
- Cost of sales – 33.7 per cent
- Salaries and wages – 29.7 per cent
- Repair and maintenance – 1.7 per cent
- Rental and leasing – 8.0 per cent
- Utilities – 1.9 per cent
- Advertising – 2.6 per cent
- Depreciation – 3.4 per cent
- Other – 13.6 per cent
- Pre-tax profit – 5.4 per cent
While Restaurants Canada forecasts 1 per cent growth in 2019 following a 1.7 decline of growth in food service sales in 2018, the organization points out that the small amount of anticipated growth comes after factoring in (expected) menu inflation of 3.8 per cent, and falls under the 1.4 per cent growth forecasted Canada-wide.
“This weak growth in real sales reveals the difficulties that Alberta’s restaurateurs are continuing to face, not only from the recession, but minimum wage hikes and other operating cost increases. They’re having to make tough choices: their main options are to raise menu prices, reduce staffing levels, or a combination of both. Many have lost skilled workers, in some cases their businesses, and in other cases they can no longer consider expanding or providing more jobs — they are out there mining for margins, just trying to survive,” Restaurants Canada points out.
The launch of Restaurant Realities is Restaurants Canada’s positive, pro-active, communication-focused way to engage the next Alberta government, create new policy that supports Alberta’s foodservice industry, and raise awareness of how current policy is hurting the sector. To learn more or to get involved in the campaign, visit restaurantrealities.ca, and use the hashtag #RestaurantRealities on social media.