food and drink

U.K. Hospitality Practices and Minimum Wage Could Make the British Strawberry Unaffordable

Room service, hotel restaurants, and local restaurants are usually the main attraction for leisure travelers besides the quality of accommodations. The mint or chocolate on your pillow. Gourmet meals with meat, fish and produce that is all locally sourced. The experience of eating unique, luxe-caliber food and drink is well worth the time and expense of a long-distance jaunt. For a lot of travelers, the first-hand experience of enjoying the local cuisine is more important than the splendor of the accommodations, interior design, atmosphere, and aesthetics.

Souvenirs on Leisure Trip

For a lot of travelers, it’s only the little things they experience, eat or collect on a trip that makes it worth it. Like the complimentary items or the sentimental resonance of a towel shaped like a bird, hotel soap stamped a logo or the sumptuousness of strawberries and cream in a bowl that makes a travel trip ultimately worth all the hassle inherent in traveling. In fact, hotels, lodges, retreats, resorts and hospitality specialists of all kinds usually enter into mutually beneficial agreements with local vendors, farmers, merchants and entrepreneurs to stock their respective hospitality facilities with unique and one-of-a-kind foods, produce and ingredients. Do you ever consider the effort and behind-the-scenes negotiating and maneuvering that is required to maintain a steady and ripened supply of locally sourced fruit for your room service fruit salad? The current political situation and living standards of the local populace in the country you visit can ultimately decide how much the strawberries in your room service dessert will cost.

The British strawberry May become unaffordable

Travelers, Anglophiles, and lovers of British hospitality culture are due for an extremely rude awakening the next time they expect to see British strawberries in their fruit salad. The British strawberry may well become logistically unaffordable and a proprietary impracticality for continued use in the British hospitality industry in the near future. This may not sound like a big deal. Yet it is an extremely big deal for the British travel and hospitality industry. Take this sobering statistic into account that properly contextualizes the importance of fruit to the travel and hospitality industry: well over 140,000 individual servings of British strawberries and cream will be served over the two-week Wimbledon event. In 2014, almost $402,000,000 dollars’ worth of British strawberries was sold in Great Britain. In 2015, Great Britain sold over $475,000,000 dollars’ worth of their strawberries. However, maintaining such profit margins will probably no longer be possible because of the implementation of the new British wage laws. Great Britain recently passed a minimum wage law which increases wages to a standard country-wide minimum of about $10.52-an-hour, which is a rise from the previous minimum of about $9.45-an-hour. By the year 2020, the minimum wage in Great Britain will be raised to about $13.15-an-hour.

What do the Hospitality Firms Say about this?

According to the hospitality consultancy firm Beacon, over 2,000 businesses associated with Britain’s hospitality, recreation, hotel, resort and leisure industries have reported that their strawberry suppliers expect the price of British strawberries to spike quite sharply. The price spike can be directly attributed to the new minimum wage laws. For those British farmers and agriculture industry participants who can’t afford to pay the new wage standard, but who are still legally mandated to do so, may end up having to forfeit almost 60 percent of their profits to close the gap. Within four years, that number could rise to a mathematically impossible 160 percent. What does that mean? It means that for local British farmers and the British agriculture industry specifically, it will become completely illogical, impractical and oppressively unprofitable to continue growing British strawberries.

The British hospitality market may then be swarmed by an influx of much cheaper and lesser quality fruit and produce importation to replenish the inevitable shortfall of locally-sourced fruit in the hospitality market. The British strawberry is only the most prominent produce commodity to be affected, but it will not be the only one. Price fluctuations for other fruit and produce commodities will also be similarly affected in a financial ripple effect. What does this all mean for the average traveler? Order British strawberries and cream during a Wimbledon match or at a stay in a British hotel before the year 2020. Nothing in life lasts forever.

More From food and drink

Subscribe Newsletters