The Response of Hotels to Increasing Food Costs due to Food Shortages

Murray Mackenzie, Yuk Yim Cheung, Chun Hung Roberts Law

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


During 2008-2009 the hotel industry in Hong Kong had to respond to a steady price increase in general food items and in basic food commodities. As most hotels in Hong Kong predict their food cost budgets a year in advance, these sudden and unexpected increases in food commodities came at a time when there was a downturn in the global economy in the wake of the financial crisis and a worldwide influenza A (H1N1) epidemic. There have been articles published in hospitality and tourism journals that have discussed the issue of food cost and control in hotels resulting from poor storage and purchasing, portion control, and preparation and production methods. However, none of the previous studies has examined the sudden and rapid increases in the cost of foods and the impact that this has had on the hotel industry. The measures adopted by Hong Kong hotels of different tiers to control or reduce expected food costs are analyzed in this study. This study employed a cross-sectional exploratory design, encompassing in-depth personal interviews with food and beverage managers and executive chefs in high-, mid- and low-tier hotels in Hong Kong. Empirical findings revealed that mid- and low-tier hotels found the increases in commodity prices challenging and thus employed innovative methods to combat rising food costs. High-tier hotels were more concerned about satisfying customers' needs by maintaining high-quality food products and services. The findings indicate that hotels and restaurants at all points of the market adopted functional strategies to increase their efficiency and profitability. Based on the operating experience of existing hotels, this study demonstrates that enhancing the quality of suppliers' commodities, good staff communication and training practices, and innovative ideas can improve a hotel's financial situation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-416
Number of pages22
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2011


  • cost control
  • food shortages
  • food wastage
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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