Just out of curiosity... What benefit do you get out of watching futures and petroleum costs? By that, I mean what can you do about it? If you see a trend for higher gas prices does that change what you do in your business in terms of costing? You still need to buys those ingredients no matter what right?
There are many reason having a look into the future helps you with.
Here's an example I just benefited from last weekPork is at an annual low right now, since we use about 1,800 pounds of pork belly annually, I was able to pre-buy almost a ton of pork belly at a price that is locked in so my costs do not increase when the market does. So when the market goes up 50% over the next 5-6 months, I am not paying those high prices since I already have those 1,600 pounds of it reserved already. And I do not need to store or handle it, my supplier has it and I get it as needed.
Flour has been very volatile this last decade, if you see that the price will rise dramatically in the near future, see if your supplier will let you lock in a guaranteed price so your food-cost ratio doesn't explode when the increase happens.
A little background on my place;
I expanded our little BBQ catering Biz into a very small restaurant 3 years ago due to high demand and us needing more space to meet that demand.
My first summer we served 20,500 pounds of meat, the following summer that was up to 36,200 pounds. When you are dealing in those volumes, a few cents here and there adds up rapidly, If I can get prices locked in at $2.09/LB for belly as compared to the $3.39/LB I saw over the last several months, I am all over it for a savings of $2,080.00. I see that savings as one months mortgage payment, or insurance, or going towards my Harley Davidson fund. Or I could even pay employee bonuses with that too.
Why am I in this forum if I do BBQ? Because I had hoped to also do wood-fired pizza at my place, but wasn't able to get any financing when I opened, so we stuck with our core business. Now we are expanding into a larger building, and the pizza operations are finally becoming a reality for us. I have a triple stack of Sveba Dahlen deck ovens, a spiral mixer, a make line, already in place at our new location to offer BBQ & Pizza together, the next step is pressure fryers for fried chicken. I had a plan, it got detoured, now we are back on track again.