Management groups help members stay current with foodservice trends

06/29/2009 11:02:29 AM
Jody Shee

Buying, sales and/or marketing management groups have a bird’s-eye view as they watch foodservice trends and identify members’ products that fit operators’ needs.

The focus on the economy, which has brought fewer guests into restaurants, has caused Pro*Act LLC, Monterey, Calif., to work with its suppliers to be more innovative with product offerings and services to help trim costs from the supply chain, said Steve Grinstead, president and chief executive officer.

                                                                Jody Shee
Andrew Siegel, president of Fresh Connect, Chicago, developed corn coin slices for Tracy, Calif.-based Prima Bella Produce Inc.’s corn. Siegel says the cuts are popular in schools.

Pro*Act’s 47 member distributors used to be viewed merely in a sales role, but now operators approach them and ask for their help to cut costs. There’s more two-way discussion, Grinstead said.

For example, Pro*Act recently developed an asparagus pack that trimmed one-third from the stalk end to offer more of what the restaurant uses. The result was a smaller box leading to more boxes per pallet and more product on the truck, resulting in lower transportation costs.

The fact that Pro*Act is in charge of its supply chain, from growing standards through packing and distribution to the back door of the restaurant, allows for control of food safety and traceability, Grinstead said.

Produce Alliance LLC, Nashville, Tenn., serves large national foodservice operators that come to the produce management services company for its buying power, national sales force and IT help, such as Web building/ordering services and data collection, said managing director Chuck Wilkinson.

Produce Alliance works with more than 75 distributors nationally to help service such operators as Avendra LLC, Rockville, Md., and Erickson Retirement Communities, Catonsville, Md.


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