Canned Food in Restaurants: Acceptable or Taboo

Nick Mirev
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    The prolonged shelf life and the low prices of canned goods have been the main reasons for growth in the canned food market. In addition, as an increasing number of people strive to be more sustainable, home canning has become more popular. Although canned food is primarily associated with cooking at home, many businesses also benefit from its advantages. When it comes to the usage of canned food in restaurants, there are polarized opinions. Some restaurant managers consider this to be a taboo. Others see it as a way to reduce the cost of goods sold and maximize profits. In this article, we’ll shed some light on the usage of canned food in restaurants. We’ll also share the pros and cons of using canned food in restaurants.

    Do Restaurants Use Canned Food

    The majority of restaurants use products made by the canned food industry. Even fine dining establishments use different types of canned food. Like in every other industry, there are different grades and categories of canned food as well. For example, a can of San Marzano tomatoes (produced primarily in Italy) is about four times more expensive than regular canned tomatoes. That’s why these high-end products are primarily used in upscale restaurants. The primary advantage of canned food is its prolonged shelf life. It’s virtually impossible to export products like seafood without preserving it. That’s why even fine-dining restaurants use canned seafood. Nevertheless, most upscale restaurants aim to minimize the usage of preserved products and instead rely on wholesale meat suppliers and produce distributors to deliver fresh ingredients.

    Casual dining and other types of restaurants also use canned goods. They might work with wholesalers or directly with canned food businesses and manufacturers. Restaurants purchase a wide range of canned products like fruits, vegetables, and seafood. They rarely rely on ready-to-eat canned products like tomato soup.

    Key takeaway: Most restaurants use some form of canned food due to the prolonged shelf life of canned products. Another reason why food service establishments might go for canned goods is that some products like caviar or imported seafood can only be found in cans. The disadvantage of using canned ingredients is that their flavor and texture change during the preservation process.
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    Pros and Cons of Canned Food in Restaurants

    Reasons to Use Canned Food in Restaurants

    1. Using canned foods is convenient. Canned vegetables are pre-cooked and can easily be added to various dishes.
    2. Canned products often come at lower prices. Manufacturers benefit from low ingredient prices during peak seasons. That’s why when comparing fresh vs canned tomatoes, the former might be cheaper than the latter.
    3. A wide range of canned goods. As canned foods are among the high-demand products in the food industry, producers offer a wide variety of canned goods. In fact, some products such as different types of caviar can only be bought canned (or preserved by other methods).

    Disadvantages of Using Canned Food in Restaurants

    Although there are many benefits of using canned food in restaurants, there are some cons as well. Let’s take a look at some of them.

    1. Changes in texture and flavor. Canned products have a different taste compared to fresh ones. Legumes, pulses, and other vegetables can also have a different texture after canning.
    2. Less quality control. Restaurants that use only fresh produce have better control over the quality. In comparison, some low-end canned goods might use ingredients that have questionable quality.
    3. Less nutrition. During the canning process, most of the nutritional value is preserved. However, some minerals and vitamins are lost due to thermal processing.
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    Do Restaurants Make Canned Food

    Although it's uncommon, some restaurants also can products. That can be a great way to use the downtime during off-peak hours. These canned products can be then used in the kitchen or sold on the restaurant’s eCommerce website. Canning can also be a great way for food service establishments to increase revenue and offer their signature dishes that customers can enjoy at home. Here are some reasons why restaurants should do their own canned food recipes.

    1. It’s an efficient way to use downtime and pre-cook ingredients to be ready for peak hours;
    2. Canning and other food preservation methods reduce food waste. This can help businesses cut their costs. Check out other ideas to reduce food waste in restaurants;
    3. With the help of canning, restaurants can purchase fresh seasonal produce and preserve it;

    Canning: An Additional Revenue Stream for Restaurants

    The COVID-19 pandemic changed the restaurant industry significantly. Food service establishments had to adapt to the increased amount of online ordering for restaurants. In such situations, business owners can search for additional revenue streams in order to increase their company’s profits. Selling pantry products and other food items such as condiments and sauces can be a great way to increase revenue and stay ahead of the competition. That’s why some kitchens invest in commercial canning equipment that enables them to make and sell bulk canned food. Furthermore, since these businesses usually purchase ingredients at wholesale prices, they can make an excellent profit margin by selling ready-to-eat canned dishes such as soups, stews, or pasta.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Canned Food in Restaurants

    Whether you want to find wholesalers or you’re a distributor looking to streamline your business processes, BlueCart is the right solution for you. In addition to helping businesses with our software, we also share tons of information on our blog. Below you can check out the answers to some of the commonly asked questions regarding canned food in restaurants.

    How Is Canned Food in Restaurants Stored?

    It’s important to store canned food away from direct sunlight. The temperature should also be cool. The main benefit of canned food is that it doesn’t have to be refrigerated unless it’s opened. Restaurants usually store canned goods in their pantries. A major benefit of these products is that they can be stacked on top of each other and are easy to store. Thus, food service establishments purchase wholesale canned goods in large quantities from produce and broadline distributors.

    Are There Restaurants That Serve Only Canned Food?

    Yes. An example of such an establishment is the Mr Kanso chain. They specialize in canned foods and offer their customers a wide variety of products. Maiden Lane is a restaurant in downtown Manhattan that also offers various canned seafood. From expensive razor clams to regular sardines in olive oil, clients can purchase various dishes.

    As marketing becomes increasingly important, restaurants need to find innovative ways to stand out from the competition. That’s why the concept of a restaurant that serves primarily canned goods is not as strange as it would have been a few years ago.

    What Other Preserved Foods Do Restaurants Use?

    Food preservation is important in the restaurant industry. Here are some of the food preservation techniques that are common in food service establishments.

    1. Freezing and cooling. All restaurants have refrigerators and freezers. They help extend the shelf life of products and keep them in good condition. Restaurants also partner with distributors of wholesale frozen vegetables and fruits.
    2. Vacuum packing. Sealing food limits its contact with oxygen to a minimum. That’s why restaurants might vacuum seal ingredients before putting them in a refrigerator. This further extends their shelf life.
    3. Freeze-drying. One of the pros of freeze-drying is that it extends the shelf life of products by decades. The disadvantage of this method is that it cannot be used for all products. It also requires a special freeze-drying machine.
    4. Preservative food additives. Salt and sugar are examples of additives that have been used to preserve food. Nowadays, the food manufacturing industry uses antimicrobial preservatives like sorbates and sulfites.
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