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
sweet pea ravioli

On any given night at the Wake Robin senior living facility in Shelburne, Vt., residents may find spring sweet pea and mascarpone ravioli with white wine cream sauce or acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and cranberries on the menu. These dishes, along with a new sweet-potato burger topped with cilantro aioli, aren’t just delicious, says Director of Dining Services Kathy King. They’re also completely vegetarian.

The popularity of Meatless Mondays and the growing number of people who call themselves “flexitarians” have impacted menu development in every noncommercial sector. Although...

Managing Your Business
umass amherst food

Restaurateurs in Amherst, Mass., aren’t happy with UMass Dining .

Registered dietitian Dianne Sutherland told local NBC affiliate WWLP News in May that the high quality of food served on campus means students aren’t visiting neighborhood eateries as frequently as those businesses might like.

“Even our vendors who we work with, they get complaints from the restaurants that students are staying on campus,” she said. “They are already paying for the food; why should they [go] off campus to eat?” More than 19,000 Amherst students are on a meal plan—6,000 of whom live off campus...

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce eat dining

Forced to battle crumbling infrastructure and a constant churn of trends, sometimes the best way to save a foodservice operation is to change it entirely. As Steve Mangan, director of dining at the University of Michigan, puts it, “At some point when your building starts to fail, the cost of maintenance stands out.” But for operators with limited budgets, the challenge is discerning the right time to do so—and how far to take it.

At Jefferson High School, change came because little worked anymore. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, school’s cafeteria hadn’t been updated since 1957; students...

Managing Your Business
farmer produce

The seeds of farm-to-table 2.0 have officially blown into noncommercial foodservice. Since the movement has caught the attention of the segment during the past decade, operators have broadened agricultural collaborations outside of just supply. As a result, a new strain of the movement has been created that treats farms as allies in events, training and innovative growing systems.

The 500-bed Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J., didn’t start out sourcing produce from local farms; instead, it administered its own growing programs, including an on-site garden and honeybee apiary...

FSD Resources