Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Change is good

March 5, 2007

schmick1.jpgRising prices for commodities ranging from corn to energy have forced food and restaurant companies to try to squeeze through the occassional price increase to cover costs.

But for restaurant chain operator McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants, price changes occur not over a period of weeks and months, but over a period of hours.

The company reprints its menus twice a day, which lets it not only adjust prices to cope with rising fish costs when they occur, but also lets the company remove pricier items from the menu, switching to fish from areas where the costs are lower, Doug Schmick, chairman and chief executive, said at the Reuters Food Summit.

“We’re really only exposed to commodity pressures for legitimately six hours,” Schmick said.

The strategy was one factor that helped the company weather a jump in fish costs last year, when Avian flu concerns in Asia and Europe caused consumers to switch from poultry to fish, driving up fish prices, Schmick said.

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