More Perishables in the Pipeline

Foodservice providers are under increasing pressure to maintain freshness, improve shelf life, and keep prices down for their customers.


In addition, Gold Star Foods turned to PACCAR Leasing (PacLease), and its local PacLease franchise, Rush Truck Leasing, in Fontana, California, for new trucks to use in its delivery fleet.

“We decided to go with a third-party, full-service lease because we don’t have the resources to maintain all the trucks and reefers,” says Johnson. PacLease also helps with regulatory compliance issues, he adds, which have become particularly onerous in California.

While attractive lease terms were naturally important to Gold Star Foods, it was Rush Truck Leasing’s unique approach to customer-oriented maintenance that helped convince the company’s executives that PacLease was the right provider for the job.

“Rush Truck Leasing developed an on-site maintenance plan that would proactively keep downtime to a minimum,” says Johnson. “They made specification recommendations that maximized our productivity. Plus, the service and lease sales teams really took a much more collaborative approach in developing a full-service leasing plan for our company. They took a much more entrepreneurial approach that wasn’t just about the sale. It’s that out-of-the-box thinking that clearly impressed us.”

The important role a foodservice provider plays in supporting a school, even a university, is echoed by Betsy Corrigan, associate director, campus dining, for The University Corporation at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

“We get fresh produce delivered five days a week,” says Corrigan. With 23 operating locations on campus, from sit down restaurants with white table cloths to juice bars and coffee houses, each with their own back door, the delivery demands alone can put a foodservice company to the test.

US Foods is CSUN’s primary foodservice provider, although other vendors are used as well, Corrigan says. And, while the ability to perform frequent and reliable deliveries is one key aspect, food safety is also high on the list, she says, noting that, “Risk management is very important on our campus.”

In the case of a recall, US Foods has a very good process in place, which helps identify if a particular product was purchased and whether it is still in CSUN’s inventory. The company also uses an email alert system to communicate with its customers, says Corrigan.

Meanwhile, rising food prices are quickly emerging as one of the biggest challenges, she points out, which puts pressure on both foodservice providers and schools to continually focus on efficient operations, especially with the addition of more fresh fruits and vegetables to the supply chain.

For Merrill Gardens, which operates 56 senior residence communities in 9 states, working with a quality foodservice provider that utilizes the latest technology is imperative, according to Geoff R. Davies, the company’s vice president of dining services.

“We have partnered with Sysco for more than 10 years,” says Davies. Sysco offers state-of-the-art facilities for storage and product movement, along with test kitchens that Merrill Gardens uses “on many an occasion,” he says. In addition, Sysco’s trucks are equipped with GPS, which allows Merrill Gardens’ chefs to use the Sysco Market ordering platform to access delivery times. The trucks also have three compartments to accommodate dry, chilled, and frozen products. Routing software is also used to optimize the trucks’ routes for better fuel efficiency.

When it comes to orders, Sysco is able to achieve 99.7 percent order accuracy, adds Davies.

 

Supporting the supply chain

For every successful foodservice provider, food manufacturer, or grocery chain, there’s an equally impressive transportation, warehouse/distribution, and software and IT system in the background that makes it all possible.

And, when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, the objective is to take steps out of the supply chain in order to extend shelf life for the customer, says David Mader, principal solutions consultant for Manhattan Associates.

For example, in the case of a warehouse that’s supplying a grocery chain, “from the time the product is ready for pick up until it reaches the store shelf, it could be anywhere from 10 to 14 days on average, and that’s a long time, especially when we’re talking about perishables,” says Mader.

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