How a GPO Helps Hospitality and Non-Acute Facilities Fight Back Against Food Price Inflation

October 25, 2022
Chef and sous chef in the kitchen planning menu
Rapid inflation is a growing challenge for businesses and consumers, as well as for non-acute healthcare facilities and patients. Skyrocketing prices are cutting into already thin profit margins, forcing organizations to determine how they can manage cost increases while still providing high-quality services. That’s why now more than ever, organizations need to improve operations to drive cost savings.
One way hospitality and non-acute facilities can accomplish this is by implementing new efficiencies and process improvements across their kitchens. While organizations may think they’re already efficient, they may be surprised to learn of new ways to lower costs. Oftentimes, these companies can’t identify savings opportunities alone. That’s where a group purchasing organization (GPO) can help.


The term operational excellence is generally defined as the practice of making continuous improvements across business functions, operations and people to enable new efficiencies. This can include everything from how organizations procure products, to how they manage inventory, to how they allocate staffing resources.
When strategically enacted, this excellence can improve revenue, lower operational risk and decrease expenses. Bringing operational best practices to commercial kitchens can also make buying, preparing and serving food more efficient without compromising taste.
The best practices include optimizing cooking processes to be faster, utilizing GPO buying processes to ensure competitive food purchasing and modernizing inventory replenishment for automatic item reordering when product levels fall below predetermined amounts. Some changes, resulting from operational improvements, can enable kitchens to maintain or improve their level of production, but with less waste and without adding more staff.


Finding, training and retaining kitchen staff is an ongoing challenge for many organizations. One solution to the labor shortage is to use a sous vide cooking method. With this method, foods such as proteins, vegetables and sandwiches are placed in hot water to cook.
All of the items are prepackaged and ready for use, which eliminates the staff time traditionally needed for food prep, like cutting produce or vegetables. Not requiring cutting and slicing also mitigates the risk of an injury that can happen with meat slicers and knives.

Because the sous vide bags are simply placed in water, almost anyone can be quickly trained to cook the food. This reduces the learning curve for employees and ensures that the food will turn out the same every time, regardless of who’s handling the cooking process.
Provista offers competitive contracts for sous vide food and equipment to help members run efficient kitchens while delivering great tasting meals to customers and residents. 

GPO food contracts and expertise can enable other efficiencies, too. For example, GPOs like Provista offer pre-sliced vegetables, premade soups, and other prepared meals that require minimal labor before they’re ready to serve.
Many kitchens may have determined years ago that it’s more cost efficient to purchase items in bulk, then cut the produce themselves and make meals from scratch. With the shift in labor costs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time for organizations to reconsider this idea. 

They may find it’s now more economical to buy ready-to-use foods and meals than to pay employees to spend their shifts cutting, prepping, opening can after can and performing other tasks that can be eliminated with the right food contracts.
And kitchens don’t need to worry about sacrificing quality. The food still tastes great, and chefs can add their personal touches or sides to the precooked meals and soups to add flavor or customize the dish.


“Having the right systems in place and removing much of the kitchen’s time-consuming prep work helps reduce mistakes and injuries.”


Leveraging data is another way GPOs can help members run a more efficient kitchen in the face of rising inflation costs. Current, accurate, integrated data from the kitchen and suppliers can be analyzed to find new opportunities to save, including:

  • Identifying lower priced food items
  • Streamlining contracts for better tier pricing
  • Pinpointing product substitutions that save money

Organizations typically can’t uncover these savings on their own because they don’t have the insights into the myriad contracts available through a GPO. In addition, the analytics can identify purchasing behaviors and determine the amount of waste in a kitchen, which can lead to smarter buying and cooking habits for additional cost savings.
Provista goes a step further than other GPOs by offering special Quarterly Promotions. These provide significant savings on big ticket items like capital equipment for the kitchen, helping members buy ranges, refrigerators, freezers, appliances and more at ultra-competitive pricing.


Improving operations helps ensure consistency across kitchen processes. Food is prepared to the same standard every time, so no matter who’s cooking, the taste, presentation and cost should be the same.
Having the right systems in place and removing much of the kitchen’s time-consuming prep work helps reduce mistakes and injuries. Implementing operational improvements also allows kitchens to increase their agility to try new menu items or respond faster to food trends. The savings and benefits enabled by enhanced operations and GPO contracted food services can help organizations combat the cost of inflation.

David Richard Headshot

About the Author

David Richard is the Associate Principal for the Provista Food Program

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