The supplier connection: Dairy

Dairy experts talk about recent issues affecting foodservice purchasing.

A shift in milk production from the Midwest to the West, coupled with rising fuel costs, is hampering distribution, says Garrett Lowney, director of sales and marketing for the Independent Procurement Alliance Program. "This problem gets passed down in the form of a higher cost to the end user," he adds. Distributors and operators must monitor processes to drive inefficiencies out of the supply chain.

Supplier consolidation is swallowing up smaller companies. This is shifting power up the supply chain from buyers to producers, Lowney explains. To counteract this, he advises distributors and restaurants to work together to more accurately forecast orders, consolidate purchases and adjust order cycles.

Specialty distributors are growing. While broadliners still handle the bulk of dairy commodities, smaller distributors are dealing with specialty, local or small-production products. Not only do these distributors sell unique ingredients, "they can come in the back door four to five days a week, offering operators a better schedule for freshness," says Kevin Marckus, sales manager for FreshPoint A-One-A.

Exclusive deals are a more frequent way to do business. FreshPoint, for example, offers an Around the Rind program in which a specialty cheese is featured weekly.

Customization is growing. Operators can work directly with a manufacturer or distributor to create proprietary products. "If a restaurant is looking for a specific flavor profile, melting property or other function in a cheese, we work out a solution," says Elizabeth Bowes, marketing manager for Sartori Foods in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Past custom products include a citrus-infused Tesore cheese and crumbled cheeses with a hand-crafted, artisanal look.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
three sisters salad

“Everyone is doing Thai in college dining,” says Patrick McElroy, campus executive chef for Bon Appetit at Washington University in St. Louis. So he set out to “push the envelope” on ethnic cuisine and offer Native American dishes—a move that had support from the American Indian Student Association. But McElroy didn’t realize the challenge ahead. “I wanted to maintain the integrity and tradition of the food, but there were very few recipes,” he says. “I had to do a lot of research.” To develop the menu, he enlisted the help of chef Nephi Craig, founder of the Native American Culinary...

Menu Development
chili spaghetti

Iconic local dishes like Cincinnati chili may not be entirely healthy, but they are incredibly popular. Across the country, K-12 operators are finding ways to add these foods to their lunch menus while still meeting their nutritional requirements. How are they adapting popular recipes and bringing them to schools—and is it worth it?

Cincinnati chili has been a staple of Mason City Schools lunches for as long as anyone can remember. Located just outside of Cincinnati, the school system serves its chili in two traditional ways: covering a pile of spaghetti, or atop a cheese Coney dog...

Managing Your Business
dancing fruit happy

When editor Jill Failla and I sat down to discuss ideas for this month’s cover story, data from FoodService Director’s sister company Technomic was the spark that lit the flame of conversation. She told me the most recent Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report had found that consumers are more willing to order and pay more for items they think are both healthy and tasteful. My questions: OK, what does that look like in practice? How does it factor into operators’ decision-making processes? And what the heck do we call that phenomenon?

After tossing around some ideas, we had it: the...

Managing Your Business
uconn gluten free bakery

When Amarillo Independent School District opened a central bakery , the foodservice team faced years of challenges: getting a handle on equipment, refining recipes and planning for shrinkage, says Michael Brungo, residential district manager of dining services for Chartwells at the Amarillo, Texas, district. Through trial and error, the right solutions at the bakery—which provides sliced bread and sandwich buns for the district’s 55 schools—rose to the top.

Though kitchens in general can be a minefield of issues, bakeries present some unique challenges thanks in part to the finicky...

FSD Resources