(July 3) Making daily deliveries to a restaurant or cafeteria just isn’t feasible with fuel costs skyrocketing.

It’s time to start thinking about ways to cut back on deliveries and save on fuel, said Lloyd Ligier, vice president of business development for Monterey, Calif.-based Pro*Act.

“In this day and age, six or seven day deliveries to foodservice accounts is just not necessary,” he said.

Ligier said he recalls the fuel crisis of the late 1970s when distributors got serious about saving fuel.

“We shut down our entire delivery system on Wednesday,” he said. “Back then, it wasn’t the cost, it was the availability. We didn’t have enough fuel to run our trucks six days a week.”

Ligier said customers had no problem cutting back, mostly because supplies arrived on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the middle of the week typically is slow.

“It worked like a charm,” he said. “Customers all understood. If you can get a delivery on Saturday to last you Saturday and Sunday, you can certainly get a delivery no Tuesday to last you Tuesday and Wednesday.”

Ligier said he didn’t re-start Wednesday deliveries for 10 years.

David Werner, director of produce and training for Fort Worth-based Ben E. Keith Co. said his company has reduced its deliveries to three or four times a week.

“It’s a huge savings for us and a huge savings for them,” he said. “We can’t run several hundred miles for 20 cases.”

Werner said customers see the logic in receiving fewer deliveries per week once they get on a system. For newer restaurants, however, it can be a challenge.

“They’ve always been used to six or seven days a week,” he said. “Most of these new restaurants, especially chain customers or program accounts, are building much smaller kitchens with less cold storage.”

Kevin Moll, chief executive officer for National Restaurant Consultants Inc., Denver, said his firm encourages restaurants to be more efficient and receive fewer deliveries per week.

“They have to have better quality management,” he said. “It also never pays to buy inexpensive produce because it usually has a shorter shelf-life. If they buy higher quality produce it lasts longer and has a better plate appearance and ultimately a lower food cost because there’s less waste. There’s no need to take five or six deliveries when they can go as infrequently as two to three times a week.”

Ligier said he would like to see the industry have a coordinated effort where everyone agrees to cut out the same day.

“There are hundreds of delivery trucks on the road that aren’t full,” he said. “Instead of having a mediocre Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we should have a very efficient Tuesday and Thursday.”