Fresh produce foodservice suppliers evolve to survive

06/23/2011 11:24:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

What bothers him is that the new technology makes it possible to go days or even longer without talking with a customer.

“The industry as a whole has lost a bit of the personal contact,” Iverson said, and he doesn’t feel comfortable about that.

“I don’t mind going back in time in some ways if it means building a stronger buyer-seller relationship,” he said.

Changes have taken place inside and outside of foodservice establishments, said Vince Ballesteros, director of sales for Church Bros. LLC, Salinas.

Restaurants want new items that make an appealing plate presentation and have a good taste profile, he said.

Church Bros.’ new wasabi arugula program helps customers achieve that.

“It allows us to adopt a taste profile from Europe and bring it to the states,” he said.

The company’s baby lettuces and cascade blend also help customers achieve that goal, said Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development.

At the same time, rising fuel costs and higher freight rates also have the foodservice sector looking for more efficient ways to do business, such as taking advantage of load consolidation, Ballesteros said.

Trucks that typically make six or seven stops are looking to cut back on pickups to save time, money and fuel.

“Companies like ours are doing really well because we offer so many commodities, plus we offer consolidation services,” Eeghen said.

Fewer pickups also can enhance products’ shelf lives, he said.


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