Product Changes

By Daniel Thor, Director of Marketing, Bellissimo Foods

Besides your primary distributor, food service manufacturer/suppliers are the most important partners you have. Everything you serve to customers is at the whim of food service suppliers; even items that are made from scratch (pizza dough for example) is made from flour milled by a foodservice supplier.

While food service suppliers not only control the quality of the product you serve, they also control your margin. Overpriced supplies can ruin your budget before you consider other costs such as labor or insurance. On the other hand, cutting corners on quality can destroy your reputation and leave your customers looking for better quality somewhere else.

As is the nature of business, it’s inevitable that changes in the industry will affect almost everything eventually. Mass consolidation, government regulation, or just a general need to cut costs are all factors that force supplier change.

Whether it’s a new supplier/product, or one that you have been using for years; if they provide you the consistent quality you are looking for, it’s frustrating when that product or supplier is no longer available. With any changes in business, having a detailed plan to move forward is crucial to get the best replacement quickly. We have listed below some ideas to help tackle product discontinuation, or changes.

  • Partner closely with your local distributor – they are the product experts. They have a good grasp on the overall market and will help you source new products to fit your needs. We assure you that they are as frustrated as you are with the changes.
  • Create a systematic approach to testing new products – cut/sample alternatives in the same situation that you would normally use the product. It might be time consuming but it’s worth it to get the best performing alternative.
  • All vendors promise the best quality, price and service, but major differences are relatively rare. You are the final judge between price quality and taste. Again, lean on your distributor to help guide you.
  • Validate the supplier by checking references, online information and business complaints. Ask your distributor if they can get the manufacturer rep or broker to visit you.

While losing a great product is always tough – there are alternatives available. Your Delco distributor will work hard to find replacement products when facing changes in the industry. Check back next month for suggestions on how to notify your customers of a change in product.

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