The Foodservice Distributor of the Future
Eight business success characteristics that will define a best-in-class distributor of the future
Kinetic12 Consulting & DMA
Never in the
history of the foodservice industry has the distribution community been
challenged the way it has been over the past 18 months. And never has there
been a more critical time to look forward.
Now is the
moment to take stock and examine our organizations to ensure we are preparing
and investing for future success. As forward-thinking leaders, we must guard
against complacency and continuously evaluate our business models considering
today's ever-changing market.
outlines eight business success factors that will define best-in-class business
practices to move organizations toward the Distributor of the Future. This list
is based on interviews and research conducted by Kinetic12 with Foodservice
Here are the
eight business success factors that will define the Foodservice Distributor of
the Future and a deeper look into each.
Integrated – The pace of technology evolution is accelerating. In the future,
every aspect of the business model, from customer behavior analysis to supplier
data sharing, will be managed using technology. Those distributors with the
scale and vision to build a holistic and integrated business management system
will have a competitive advantage.
This was the
number one future business success criteria identified by distributors.
best-in-class tech platform of the distributor of the future will be both
customer facing and internally facing. It will support the efficient execution
of critical business processes to drive efficiency, speed, transparency and
trust, while also enhancing the operator-customer experience.
systems were identified as being critical to business success in the future.
order & inventory visibility
support tools – product data, marketing, merchandising, pricing, insight,
inventory, order management
& contract management
– customer support
chain management, order management, track & trace, crisis management
management & automation
engagement & data management
& asset management
& insight mining & analysis
targeting – CRM: customer data analytics
Data Transparency – The ability to access data no matter what system it sits in
is critical to efficient business management and to building true competitive
advantage. The distributor of the future must develop capabilities for seamless
sharing of data with employees, customers, suppliers and other partners that
inform decision making.
the distributor of the future will have built advanced analytical capabilities,
including predictive analytics, to provide insight to support customer value
platforms, operational efficiency efforts and supply chain visibility,
including forecasting, inventory management, order tracking, product
traceability, fulfillment rates, substitutions, and delivery times.
degree of user trust will be established through systems that secure data and
transactions, such as GS1US and Blockchain implementation initiatives, and
through a track record of effective crisis management.
Customer-Centric Engagement – Customer-centric is an approach to business that
focuses on building the best customer experience possible to build brand
loyalty and grow lifetime value. A best-in-class distributor of the future
understands this and will have implemented a comprehensive team member culture
that puts the customer first -- fully enabled by the right structure, systems
Foodservice industry has evolved, the legacy partitions that have divided it
from grocery, mass, drug and c-store have become less important. Distributors
have now broadened their scope to a multi-channel approach that leverages their
capabilities to all potential segments and customers. This customer-centric
engagement strategy must also be customized by segment as a more diverse customer
base is built.
critical business components will help to define the multi-channel
customer-centric engagement strategy: sales, solutions and customer selection.
- A highly skilled, technically savvy and empowered distributor sales force
trained in solution-selling and problem-solving. It is supported by culinary,
insight and marketing services with a high degree of connectivity to top
supplier partners and broker sales reps.
- A broad and customizable platform of value-added solutions executed through a
network of internal resources and 3rd-party providers. Example: An internal
team of delivery “unpackers" who unpack and store orders after delivery to the
operator. They reduce the work of the drivers who can now be more efficient
and reduce the need for as many drivers.
Selection – A sophisticated customer targeting system that allows for
identification of best-match operators (including picking customers based on a
cultural fit) and closer management of the chain-street mix to optimize
operations scale and profitability.
Flawless Execution Mindset – Flawless execution is “a business framework that
equips individuals and teams with the tools they need to successfully drive
progress and achievement". The distributor of the future will develop a
“last-mile" focus of flawless execution that delivers frictionless service,
complete and on-time orders, with a reputation for reliability and flexibility.
this is a superior level of customer service that involves transparent
communication and a goal of providing immediate action to solve problems. This
also requires a commitment to highly effective and efficient performance
tracking, including publishing KPIs, and course correcting against identified
challenges. Only through a best-in-class review and refine process can flawless
execution be achieved and maintained.
Optimized Portfolio Mix – Broadline distribution in Foodservice has always
required a vast portfolio of products. Effectively managing this complexity
requires walking a fine line between meeting customer needs and minimizing
operational complexity and the costs of a warehouse filled with thousands of
distributors broaden their reach to new segments and innovation evolves, the
focus on “Exclusive Brands (EB)" and operator proprietary items must be
balanced; otherwise, the drive toward continued SKU proliferation will only
the future will require a continued evolution of strategic sourcing to deliver
a high level of service without increasing warehouse complexity. One approach
is the 3rd-party seller model. As of March 2021, Amazon offered more than 75.1
million products. 53% of purchased units were sold through Amazon's platform by
third-party sellers. Is there learning here for Foodservice? Clearly the
business model for Foodservice distribution is different, but can this
3rd-party seller model be further adapted in the Foodservice industry?
distributor of the future must also employ best-in-class principles of category
management, which requires close collaboration with strategic suppliers.
there is no silver-bullet solution, best-in-class portfolio management will
require creative multi-partner solutions involving new thinking and new
Strategic Supplier Engagement – Collaborative engagement starts with the
realization that supplier strategies go two ways. Many supplier relationships
are still transactional in nature. While these relationships have their place
the value of a closer relationship with select suppliers is a smart approach to
supplier engagement. Many suppliers have deep resources and insights that can
provide tremendous value. Maximizing this value starts with deciding with whom
best-in-class distributor understands that optimizing supplier value starts
with a segmentation model to assess each relationship's current and potential
value. They have effectively segmented suppliers to understand which are strategic
versus transactional and then leverage strategic supplier capabilities into
areas such as category management, insights, innovation and joint selling
efforts. Critical to successful supplier engagement is the belief in mutual
benefit, grounded in transparency and a commitment to collaboration.
Culture & Engaged Labor Force – The relationship among team members and the
distributor organization has a direct impact on their performance, work quality
and retention. Building a winning culture of engagement and empowerment is a
critical business factor for any company. This is especially important for
Foodservice distribution given the labor-intensive model with multiple direct
customer touch points including sales, drivers, customer service reps and newer
services like culinary and restaurant consulting and support services.
the latest Gallup report, only 36% of employees are engaged in the workplace,
51% of employees are disengaged, while 13% are actively disengaged. Clearly
there is significant opportunity for improvement.
distributor of the future will build a culture that attracts the best people
and an engagement strategy that optimizes their performance and promotes
retention. Critical to this effort is flexibility related to work life balance,
a progressive commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, training, and a team
environment that embraces genuine TLC with the evolving needs of today's
Partnerships – Strategic relationships allow businesses to expand their
services and customer base without the time, expense or risk of launching new
services themselves. For distributors, building a network of out-sourced
services for their operator customers is an effective way of providing
differentiated, one-stop services.
best-in-class distributor of the future will have proactively built a network
of external partnerships with associations, redistributors, agencies, and
suppliers and leveraged those relationships for smart-outsourcing of non-expert
functions and to scope and build new business adjacencies and services. They
also understand the value of external connectivity in promoting industry health
and overall industry success.
forward, the Distributor of the Future can be defined by the eight business
success factors outlined above and is taking action today to plan and invest
both thoughtfully and aggressively to build these best-in-class capabilities.
In the words of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, “In today's era of volatility, there
is no other way but to re-invent. The only sustainable advantage you can have
over others is agility."
Plant-Based Menu Items Skyrocketing at U.S. Restaurants
seems like a new plant-based development each week, it's no surprise that meat
alternatives are now a $14 billion market, according to Tastewise's new
Q3 Market Report: Alternative Proteins.
Institute reviewed the report and took a closer look into some of the most
Tap into Plant-Based
have significantly tapped into the alternative meat market, with a +1,320%
increase in menu mentions since pre-pandemic. Notably, from May-July 2020,
there was a 158% spike in menu mentions of vegan meat across the country. This
was largely due to Starbucks' June 2020 addition of the Impossible
prompted further growth in the category and other companies soon followed suit.
Beyond Meat signed partnerships with fast-food giants McDonald's
and Yum Brands in early 2021, while Good Catch's plant-based seafood
landed itself on the menu at Bareburger, and Jack in the Box unveiled the
just a handful of the many new plant-based additions over the past year or so.
However, Dunkin', which was the first major restaurant chain to offer
Beyond Meat's sausage alternative, pulled the Beyond Sausage breakfast sandwich
off its U.S. menu in June. The item did not sell as well as the chain expected.
comes to where plant-based has the most menu penetration, New York City holds
the top spot, followed by Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.
the top meat that consumers are trying to replicate with plant-based products,
at 34%. Soy is the primary ingredient for sausage replication, but walnut
chorizo is an up-and-coming ingredient to watch for sausage replication. There
was a 72% increase in interest in walnut-based sausage over the last three months,
with 82% being in the form of chorizo.
followed by chicken (23%), bacon (10%), and beef (8%), while more niche meats,
like lamb, salami, and jerky appear to be items to keep an eye on.
especially seeing growth opportunity. One brand to watch in this category is
Country Archer Provisions, which recently launched a plant-based jerky line.
The line uses oyster mushrooms for its products, which the report notes is an
emerging ingredient. Mushroom jerky was up 14.6% year-over-year.
for Eating Plant-Based
found that health and sustainability are the top two reasons for eating
alternative meat. Though health is the number one reason, sustainability is
rising faster, up 58% year-over-year.
health-related reasons people choose alt meats for include protein, fiber, as
well as saturated fat, cholesterol, and anti-aging.
animal rights declined as a motivator for alt meat (-14% year-over-year), while
climate change concerns have stepped up (+83%).
consumers don't want to give up the sensory and social experience of eating
animal meat once they've decided to eat alternative meats, revealing a market
for products that replicate the experience authentically. Food Institute Focus
Loyalty Programs Gain in Food
Industry; Grocers Align with Subscriptions
programs continue to gain traction across the food industry as restaurants and
retailers implement new offerings to capitalize on customer allegiance.
is widely tied to pandemic-induced spikes in digital commerce along with
consumer's growing appetite for personalized omnichannel shopping experiences.
innovation in loyalty is around dynamic pricing and promotion to reward the
right customers for the right behaviors," Jonathan Treiber, CEO of promotions
marketing platform RevTrax, told The Food Institute. “These
innovations leverage shopper insights, data science, and digital technologies
to optimize profit and sales for a brand at a consumer-level."
of the QSRs
In 2021, the
share of consumers using a restaurant loyalty program increased by 12% from
January through April, according to a recent report from Paytronix and PYMNTS. Additionally, 47% of diners now use at least one loyalty program.
some of the biggest names in fast food — from Burger King, McDonald's,
and Wendy's to Popeyes and Jack in the Box — have
implemented loyalty programs over the past twelve months.
seems the benefits of customer loyalty are worth fighting for. In addition to
driving higher order frequency and ticket sales, digital loyalty platforms
enable companies to collect customer data and distribute content to drive
deeper engagement, reported Forbes (Aug. 20). Full Story
2021 Consumer Connect survey, 51% of respondents said shopper loyalty
programs somewhat influenced where they decided to shop, while 22% said it was
also revealed that personalization is a key to consumer loyalty, with 85% of
respondents wanting to select their own benefits and rewards, and more than 70%
wanting to personalize the way they earn based on their purchases or
retailers that combine loyalty programs with multiple options for making
purchases, such as online ordering or click-and-collect, can improve their
chances of capturing consumers' allegiance, Joan Driggs, vice president of
Content and Thought Leadership at IRI said in a press release. Food Institute Focus
City Most Likely to Lead Restaurant Recovery Charge: Report
As the U.S.
restaurant industry pushes towards pandemic recovery, a new report from Lending
Tree shows some cities are bouncing back faster than others.
study, researchers examined four key metrics from the 50 largest metropolitan
areas between January 2020 and June 2021:
- Consumer spending
at restaurants and hotels
- Job postings in
leisure and hospitality
- Time spent away
from home at retail and restaurants
also took into account the number of restaurant workers in a local area
relative to the national average and the 2019 cost-of-living data from the U.S.
Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Half of the
top ten fastest recovering regions are in Southern metropolitan areas, with
Oklahoma City leading the list due to a strong employment recovery and a
sizable pool of restaurant workers. The top areas are:
1. Oklahoma City, OK
2. Boise, ID
3. Tampa, FL
4. Omaha, NE
5. Tulsa, OK
6. El Paso, TX
7. San Diego, CA
9. Jacksonville, FL
10. Detroit, MI
strengths varied across metrics, there was a particularly notable spike in the
percentage of job postings in areas like Boise (116%), Detroit (113%), and
further notes the higher performance of some cities are due in part to state
regulations where restrictions on dining out have been more lax or nonexistent
compared to states that mandated extended shutdowns.
Some of the
lowest ranking recovery scores overlapped with the most expensive metros. Cost
of living in the U.S. is highest in San Francisco and San Jose, CA. New York,
which has the third-highest cost of living, comes in at No. 40.
with slowest recovery are:
1. Washington, DC
2. San Francisco, CA
3. Oakland, CA
4. San Jose, CA
5. Miami, FL
6. Phoenix, AZ
7. Baltimore, MD
8. Sacramento, CA
9. Atlanta, GA
10. Portland, OR
chief credit analyst Matt Schulz notes that heightened competition areas like
San Francisco and New York make it even tougher for restaurants to thrive.
is part of it, no question, but the sheer amount of restaurant options that are
available in those areas plays a big role, too," Schulz stated in the report.
“That's true even in the best of times. Factor in a pandemic, and it all just
gets exponentially more difficult." Food Institute Focus
- McDonald's says nearly all its paper packaging
now comes from sustainable fiber. In its latest sustainability report, the
chain said 99.6% of the paper bags, wrappers, napkins, cup carriers and other
fiber-based materials it used to package meals came from recycled products,
reported Reuters (Aug. 20). Full Story
McDonald's and Saweetie unveiled a new merchandise collection to celebrate the
Famous Orders collaboration. The Saweetie Meal is currently available at
participating restaurants through Sept. 5. Full Story
Little Italy is
adding another virtual concept to its fold called Maggiano's Italian
Classics, which will emphasize $10 lunch combos, reported Restaurant
Business (Aug. 18). Full Story
- Jack in
the Box signed deals
to open 64 locations across Arizona, California, Idaho, Texas, and Utah. Full Story
- Chick-fil-A locations in Alabama were having
difficulty staffing their stores, with a Bessemer-based operation closing its
dining room since it cannot properly staff it. A Calera-based store closed its
dining room, turned off curbside delivery, and limited the number of catering
orders it would accept to reduce stress on its team, reported CBS News (Aug.
26). Full Story
- Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A will soon test three virtual brands in
Nashville, Tennessee: Flock&Farm, Garden Day, and Outfox Wings will
specialize in products like pork belly BLTs, garden-fresh salads, and bone-in
wings, reported Yahoo.com. Full
- Salad chain
Sweetgreen bought Spyce, a Boston restaurant company that made a
name for itself with its automated kitchen, reported CNBC (Aug. 24). Full Story
- Taco Bell is launching the Chicken Sandwich
Taco for a limited time. The item, which will ask fans to answer whether it's a
sandwich or taco, will incorporate marinated chicken with tortilla chips and
flatbread, reported MarketWatch (Aug. 26). Full Story
- Wing Zone is making a sizable tech investment
to speed its growth. Eight months after being acquired by Capriotti's
Sandwich Shop, the fast-casual wing chain is eyeing robotic fry cooks and
new equipment to reduce wing cooking times from nine minutes down to just two
minutes, reported Restaurant Business (Aug. 24). Full Story
& Company is
opening four locations in the El Paso and Las Cruces, Texas markets. Full Story
Co. is combatting
soggy French fries by retooling their design with drive-thru and delivery
orders in mind. The new “Hot & Crispy" fries are coated with a “whisper" of
batter to hold up for a 20-30-minute delay before eating, reported MarketWatch
(Aug. 30). Full Story
Barbecue Pit will
open 48 locations in the northeast over the next five years under a deal with Chaac
Foods. Full Story
- Subway is looking to boost its
international development. The chain has signed a deal with PT Mitra
Adiperkasa Tbk to expand in Indonesia, as it seeks to add more units
overseas, reported Restaurant Business (Aug. 23). Full Story
- Starbucks wants a union vote expanded to 20
locations in New York state. The coffee chain wants all 450 employees in
its Buffalo, New York, market to have a say on whether they'll be represented
by the Service Employees International Union, reported Restaurant
Business (Sept. 15). Full Story
- Burger King is taking its rewards program nationwide
amid a broader push from the Restaurant Brands International chain to
invigorate its U.S. business. The chain is on track to have two-thirds of its
U.S. footprint offer the loyalty program in restaurants by the end of
September. The program is already nationwide for orders placed through its
mobile app and website, reported CNBC (Sept. 2). Full Story
- Meanwhile, Chipotle is adding new
loyalty program features as its digital sales for 2021 surpass $2 billion. The
chain's “Rewards Exchange" adds a gamification element to the program and
allows members to exchange points for more than 15 different rewards, reported Forbes
(Sept. 1). Full Story
- Dog Haus will open a total of eight locations in Los Angeles,
Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay area, Washington D.C., and College Station,
Texas. Full Story
- Walmart opened its first Ghost Kitchen
Brands “virtual food court" location in Rochester, New York, as part of a
multi-state U.S. expansion. The service enables shoppers to select food and
beverages from the menus of up to 25 national and regional restaurant and CPG
food concepts and combine them into a single order, reported Supermarket
News (Sept. 3). Full Story
a flagship location in Honolulu. Full Story
open 70 ghost kitchens in the Middle East over the next year and will add 136
brick-and-mortar stores within the next five years in partnership with master
franchisee Kitopi. Full Story
chain First Watch is going public. The 423-unit chain has seen a quick
recovery from the pandemic and would be the industry's third such offering of
2021, reported Restaurant Business (Sept. 7). Full Story
- KFC pulled advertising for its chicken tenders due to supply
shortages. KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman noted the chain had enough supply
to meet current demand, but aggressive advertising for the product would likely
stretch supplies too thin, reported Fortune (Sept. 7). Full
- Yum! Brands plans to transition to
100% cage-free eggs and egg products at the majority of its locations by 2026.
- Cava is investing $30 million in a
57,000-square-foot food processing facility in Virginia. The facility will be
used to create and package dips and spreads branded under the fast-casual
chain's name to be sold in grocery stores nationwide, reported Restaurant
Business (Sept. 10). Full Story
on the Move:
Assembly Pizza named
Hormis Tharakan as COO. Full Story
appointed Tom Curtis president of Burger King U.S. & Canada. Full Story
- McDonald's Corp. named Paul Pomroy corporate SVP, International
Operated Markets, Alistair Macrow as CEO of the United Kingdom & Ireland,
and Morgan Flatley as global chief marketing officer. Full Story
Brands named Aaron
Powell global Pizza Hut CEO. Full Story
- National Restaurant Association CEO Tom Bené is stepping down and CFO
Marvin Irby will serve as interim CEO. Full
- IHOP appointed Jacob Barden VP of
development and Michael Kaufman VP of strategy and business analytics. Full Story
- MOD Super
Fast Pizza Holdings
appointed Becky Mulligan SVP operations. Full Story
named Richard Key to chief operations officer. Full Story
Shortages Continue to Drive Supply Chain Woes
supply chain disruptions continue to pervade the U.S. food sector, with labor
challenges triggering shortages from raw materials and ingredients to packaged
Some of the
largest U.S. food distributors, including United Natural Foods Inc. and Sysco
Corp., are having difficulty fulfilling orders. Sysco further noted that
prices for key goods such as chicken, pork, and paper products for takeout
packaging, are climbing amid tight supplies, reported Yahoo Finance (Aug
24). Full Story
manufacturers are also tangling with shortages in resin, aluminum, and other
raw materials used for packaging, and many producers are giving priority to
their most popular items.
sectors, manufacturers are struggling to meet demand due to continued employee
shortages. There was some expectation that states where enhanced unemployment
benefits and COVID relief payments expired would see an increase in new hires
or employees returning to work. However, the labor issue has persisted.
cases, manufacturers can't hire adequate numbers to fully staff lines
contributing to reduced productivity." Rick Williams, Operations Business
Partner at JPG Resources told The Food Institute. “In other
cases, employers experience up to 20% to 40% callouts on some shifts, impacting
planning and production."
of U.S. truck drivers is further exacerbating bottlenecks in the supply chain,
with retention challenges playing a key role. Turnover rates are over 90% for
large long haul carriers and over 72% for small carriers, according to the U.S.
Department of Transportation.
Out of Stocks
grocery retail sector, inventory on a wide range of categories continues to
fluctuate. Due to limited guidance from suppliers, grocers are struggling to
predict how complete or timely their deliveries will be, reported The Wall
Steet Journal (Aug 22). Full Story
to mitigate supply chain issues, retailers can draw on their experiences over
last year, Gary Hawkins, Founder and CEO for the Center of Advancing Retail
and Technology told The Food Institute. “Many retailers have reduced
and simplified product assortment in many categories, concentrating on keeping
improved stock positions on a fewer number of items."
in the U.K.
across the U.K. are grappling with similar supply chain and labor shortages.
to the country's hiring crisis, Amazon began offering $1,373 sign-on
bonuses for a range of warehouse jobs. Tesco and Asda are
offering an equal sign-on bonus for truck drivers, reported Independent
(Aug 24). Full Story
are also delivering to stores less frequently and prioritizing products,
according to The Financial Times (Aug 24). Full Story
restaurants like McDonald's and Nando's have cut major menu offerings and
shuttered stores in recent weeks due to product shortages. Food Institute Focus
Restaurant Results Worst Since May
Restaurant sales and traffic posted their worst results since May, according
to Blackbox Intelligence, which reported sales were up 6.13% from
August 2019. Meanwhile, comparable traffic dropped 5.44% during the quarter.
Tork is Dedicated to Helping Your Customers Navigate Hygiene Challenges
Tork is dedicated to helping you and your customers
navigate through today's hygiene challenges and opportunities. Download the hand
hygiene presentation to review a holistic view of hand hygiene in the restroom
including the latest government guidance, tools, and product recommendations.
Hygiene is key to the well- being of people, business and society and Tork can
support you in maintaining critical hygiene standards.
P&G Launches CleanPLUS Experience Program
P&G Professional has recently launched their CleanPLUS Experience Program,
aimed at helping restaurants and their guests during COVID-19. Both external
& internal P&G research found that a majority of restaurant patrons expect
more thorough cleaning - and 58% would prefer to see the brands used to clean.
Through the CleanPLUS Experience Program, guests and employees
can be reassured that all restaurant areas are cleaned and disinfected using
P&G Professional products that have been trusted by Americans for generations,
such as Dawn Professional, Spic & Span, Comet, and Safeguard. Many may have
seen last week's press release by Dunkin' Brands- announcing they've become
one of the first partners for the P&G Professional CleanPLUS Experience Program-
in their nearly 12,000 U.S. locations.