In this environment, growers and shippers who provide products to foodservice can add value to operators and consumers by:
- Creating new, healthier use ideas for products. Yes, brussels sprouts with bacon tastes great, but by suggesting ideas that align with recommended intake of calories, sodium, etc., the industry can help foodservice provide delicious, yet healthier options.
- Researching menu pricing and understanding how your products line up. In other words, based on an average f.o.b. cost, freight and distributor mark-up, what is the per-serving cost of your product? Tell the story of the food cost and margin opportunity with fresh produce. Food cost averages 30% of menu price for full-service restaurants. How does your product match up?
- Encouraging operators to offer more fruit and vegetable options. Produce plays a bigger role in foodservice. Talk to operators about trends (including the Let’s Move message) and position your products as part of the solution. For example, try offering portion-controlled products that can easily serve as side dishes on kids’ menus.
- Helping operators tell your story. In addition to perceived health benefits, families may shy away from foodservice because of the perception that it offers heavily processed foods versus less fresh and natural. Help operators tell the story of how your products were grown and packed, and their nutritional benefits.
While encouraging healthy eating and reduced childhood obesity is something we can all get behind, there are many means to reach this end. Some take place with a home-cooked meal, and some do not.
Eating out doesn’t always mean eating poorly, as exemplified by the proliferation of healthy offerings on many of today’s foodservice menus.
With the help of growers and shippers, the foodservice industry will be better positioned to tell this side of the story.
Tim York is CEO of Salinas, Calif.-based Markon Cooperative, made up of eight North American foodservice distributors. Centerplate is a monthly column offering a peek at “what’s now and next” for foodservice and the implications for the produce industry.
What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.