5 Things to Consider When Getting Your Products into Foodservice
The restaurant industry is projected to surpass $798 billion in sales in 2017. Not only has the industry posted seven straight years of growth, but is has consistently outperformed other sectors in the U.S. economy over that time. The strength and stability of the market make it an ideal climate for innovation and growth.
The market is also vast and filled with opportunity. Operators make more than $200B in food and beverage purchases and there are well over 1.2 million restaurant locations making these purchases. Multiply that by the influencers that have a say in the everyday decisions on food and beverage, technology, equipment, etc. and the opportunities are endless! So as a food company, or manufacturer of food/beverage products, what can you do to get your products into the foodservice industry? Here are a few tips for success:
- Channels – The foodservice industry is made up of various channels that prepare food and sell ready-to-eat food items, meals and snacks. It’s more than just restaurants in fine-dining and fast casual, while they make up a huge portion of the market, it also includes hospitality businesses, hotels, bars, schools, catering companies, airlines, sports venues, etc. Whether you are interested in working with large chains, emerging growth chains, multi-concepts, high-volume independents or onsite establishments, it’s important to know the channel where your products best fit in. Be aware of how those companies prefer to do business. Do they buy products direct or through distribution, do they only work locally, or on a large scale? The more you know about the foodservice channel you are targeting, the better you can demonstrate how your products can be valuable to them and the more likely they are to do business with you.
- Product Portions – Volume is key to foodservice buyers. Larger establishments require higher quantities and you need to be able to provide your products in larger portions. Even smaller establishments must be able to scale food products to work within their recipes and menu selections. Again, depending on the foodservice channel you are trying to get into, be aware of product volume requirements.
- Packaging – Many food companies already have their products in retail establishments such as large supermarkets, local grocery stores, or in wholesale outlets. However, products on retail shelves are packaged very differently than those in foodservice establishments. In fact, packaging in foodservices is all about convenience and stability and not so much about labeling and how it looks. Many foodservice items come in bags or with easy-to-use features like pour spouts, stackables, or quick-grab handles. Your packaging doesn’t have to look good, it has to be functional in a foodservice environment.
- Price – Be aware of price sensitivities. Profit margins can be lower, but volume is greater. Consumer trends can influence decisions on menu pricing at restaurants, which creates a trickle-down factor for food buyers. Spending trends across different demographic groups affect how restaurants might account for that in pricing strategies. Location, consistency and timing are factors that foodservice operators are considerations and knowing their challenges will help you set pricing for your products.
- Branding & Awareness – Staying top of mind with those involved in the foodservice industry is critical especially if you are targeting large chains, emerging growth chains, multi-concepts, high-volume independents and onsite establishments. Buyers and influencers in these channels span marketing, operations, technology, culinary, finance franchise, supply chain, human resources and foodservice directors. This is where target-specific marketing, can be your most effective route to getting your products into the mix. When you place print or online ads in a target-specific brand, you are marketing directly to a specific target audience rather than a general one. Zeroing in on a market niche that is engaged and interested in the type of product or service you’re offering is the best way to gain visibility and awareness of your products.
As a trusted authority on foodservice and food retail, our network of brands can effectively reach the restaurant, noncommercial foodservice and food retail industry. Nation’s Restaurant News is the preeminent foodservice brand and boasts the most trafficked website in all of foodservice. Restaurant Hospitality is the premier resource dedicated to the success of the professional restaurateur. Food Management has the largest audience for the noncommercial/onsite foodservice community. And Supermarket News is the brand food retail professions count on for the intelligence they need to make smart business decisions.
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