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Why the FHRS could be the key to success for your food start-up

The food and hospitality industry is becoming increasingly competitive but a Food Hygiene Rating Scheme certificate can help your business stand out...

According to a report by resource management specialists Ten Live Group, an across-the-board interest in independent eateries and casual dining, as well as a growing coffee culture, is responsible for tangible growth in the UK’s food service sector.

Why start a food business?

In 2014 the food and hospitality industry was valued at £46.6bn, with the sector expected to grow by 2.2% between 2014 to 2019, taking its net worth to over £56bn. Coupled with changing consumer trends in favour of more varied food choices, it’s easy to see why a growing number of start-ups are choosing to take the plunge and launch their own food business.

Cafés, street food vendors and restaurants are on the rise in the UK, prompting greater investment and interest in the sector. Indeed, The Caterer recently reported that the number of food outlets on Britain’s high streets has grown by 258% since 1998 — a figure which represents faster growth than any other industry over the same period.

While some would argue the scale of competition surrounding the food sector could deter some start-ups from entering the market, most agree there’s never been a better time to launch a food business to capture a share of the prospective £56bn in consumer expenditure.

Food health and safety regulations

For small businesses who have already made steps towards establishing their own independent food outlet, the challenge now is to offer an innovative and attractive service whilst adhering to the raft of food safety legislations which govern the sale of food products to the public; something easier said than done for those unfamiliar with food safety law.

In the UK, all food retailers are subject to legislation enforced by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), as well as local authorities. The FSA governs a multitude of different food businesses, helping to maintain and improve food hygiene and safety across the entire industry.

As part of its ongoing food safety remit, the FSA launched the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) in 2008 to offer consumers greater insight into the safety and hygiene of restaurants, cafés, and takeaways on the high street. The FHRS is a certificate displaying the establishment’s food hygiene rating, and has received a largely positive response from both consumers and food businesses.

Although displaying the FHRS rating is not yet a legal requirement in the UK (excluding Wales), over 440,000 businesses have opted to display their ‘score on the door’ since the scheme was launched.

But while this is great news for consumers — giving them peace of mind when choosing a place to eat out — how can the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme help start-up food businesses?

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS)

Food safety experts Shieldyourself believe the benefits afforded by the FHRS stem from the public’s trust in the FSA and the standards it upholds.

They said: “With its distinctive branding, the FSA’s food hygiene rating has fast become a distinctive selling point for savvy consumers. According to the FSA, 76% of consumers recognise the FHRS certificate, and most agree that the scheme offers valuable insight into a business’ food safety credentials. Consumer awareness is increasing all the time, and many are now actively avoiding eateries which do not display their FHRS rating.”

So, food businesses which display their FHRS rating are more attractive to consumers and are more likely to gain custom than those which don’t display the rating.

For food start-ups attempting to compete in a crowded marketplace, displaying the FSA’s food safety and hygiene rating could mean the difference between success and failure — and all for the sake of a visit from an Environmental Health Officer.

Given that 91% of food outlets pass the FHRS inspection, and ratings of four stars and above are on the increase, there’s no reason to fear a visit from the FSA.

In fact, food businesses which receive a score of three stars or higher also benefit from reduced insurance premiums — so there’s really no reason not to display your business’ FHRS rating, provided you adhere to food safety standards.

To conclude then, businesses which display the FHRS rating benefit from increased turnover, improved consumer confidence and healthier business growth — making it a potentially lucrative tool for food start-ups.


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