Operations Focus: The Logistics of Fresh

As we’ve discussed here and here, the future of foodservice is fresh. This trend is sharpest among Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997), although other generational groups are also coming along for the ride. Most nutritionists and healthcare providers agree that fresh food is healthier than food that’s overly processed and packaged. Operations FocusHowever, this sharp upswing in the popularity of fresh food can create difficulties for foodservice providers.

Several decades ago, foodservice distributors provided “one-stop shopping” that streamlined deliveries and allowed economies of scale that drove down prices. With lower demand for fresh food, weekly or bi-weekly deliveries were the norm. But in today’s market where freshness reigns, foodservice providers need to look to innovative logistics in order satisfy customer demand.

Stocking and maintaining appropriate inventory is especially tricky with fresh foods. Order too much and it spoils; order too little and customers can’t get their choice. Given the short shelf life of fresh foods, either option is risky. Technology is helping to solve this problem with tracking and analytics systems that provide real-time visibility of inventory needs and allow businesses to right-size their orders to meet customer demand.

One foodservice expert also suggests a specialized transportation system called perishable consolidation. Perishable consolidation is perfect for transporting fresh food that doesn’t fill a complete truck (known as less-than-truckload, or LTL). LTL shipping reduces the time that fresh food must sit in a warehouse waiting to be shipped, thus increasing its freshness.

USConnect strives to continuously improve its Bistro To Go!™ fresh food kiosks—always looking for fresher foods and greater choice. Improved logistics, technology, and transportation help our efforts.

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